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The Coptic 

Aziz S. Atiya 


Volume VI 

The Coptic Encyclopedia 

Editors and Consultants 

Editor in Chief 

Aziz S. Atiya 
University of Utah 


William Y. Adams 

University of Kentucky 
Basilios IV 

Archbishop of Jerusalem 

Pierre du Bourguet, S.J. 

Louvre Museum, Paris 

Rene-Georges Coquin 
College de Prance, Paris 

W. H. C. Frend 
Glasgow University 

Mirrit Boutros Ghali 
Society of Coptic Archaeology, Cairo 

Bishop Gregorios 

Higher Institute of Coptic Studies, Cairo 
Peter Grossmann 

German Institute of Archaeology, Cairo 

Antoine Guillaumont 
College de France, Paris 

Rodolphc Kusscr 
University of Geneva 

Martin Krause 

Westfdlische Wilhelms-Universit'at, Munster 

Subhi Y. Labib 
Kiel University 

Tito Orlandi 

University of Rome 

Marian Robertson 
Utah State University 
Khalil Samir 

Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome 

Labib Habachi 

Egyptian Department of Antiquities, Cairo 
J. M. Robinson 

Institute of Antiquity and Christianity, Claremont, California 

Magdi Wahba 
Cairo University 

Editorial Managing Committee 

S. Kent Brown 

Brigham Young University, Provo 
Fuad Megallv 

Polytechnic of Central London 

The Coptic 

Aziz S. Atiya 


Volume 6 

Macmillan Publishing Company 


Collier Macmillan Canada 


Maxwell Macmillan International 


Copyright © 1991 by Macmillan Publishing Company 

A Division of Macmillan, Inc. 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or 
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Library of Congress Catalog Card No.: 90-23448 

Printed in the United States of America 

printing number 
123456789 10 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 

The Coptic encyclopedia / Aziz S. Atiya, editor-in-chief, 
p. cm. 

Includes bibliographical references and index. 

ISBN 0-02-897025-X (set) 

1, Coptic Church--Dictionaries. 2. Copts—Dictionaries. 

I* Aliya, Aziz S., 1898- . 

BX130.5.C66 1991 90-23448 

281'.7'03—dc20 CIP 

The preparation of this volume was made possible in part by a 
grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, an 
independent federal agency. 

Photographs on pages 567, 736, 754, 755, 790, 791, 876-878, 1284, 3311, and 
2168 are reproduced courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photography 
by the Egyptian Expedition. 


ABI SULAYMAN, physician son of Abi 
SulaymAn Dawud ibn Abi al-Muna ibn Abi Fanah 
from whom, among others, he learned medicine, 
and brother of abG alfadl ibn ab! sulaymAn and of 
Abu Shakir ibn Abi SulaymAn, to whom he taught 
the art of medicine. 

He was a skilled doctor, respected and with a 

good position at court. The sultan al-Malik al-'Adil 

(1200-1218), for whom he worked, appointed him 

to the service of his son al-Malik al-Mu'azzam. He 

• • 

also worked as physician for al-Malik al-NAsir Salah 
al-Dln. He moved to Egypt and remained there until 
his death in 1216. He was buried at D&r al-Khandaq 
in Cairo. 

While in Damascus he also taught his nephew 
Rashid al-Din ABO tIULAYQAH. 

Penelope Johnstone 

mad 'All Dynasty. 

MUHAMMAD 'ALl DYNASTY, a family that 
ruled Egypt for about a century and a half (1805- 

1952). The following is a brief survey of the line of 
succession, with particular reference to the role 
played by the Copts during the time of each ruler. 
Dates refer to the years of their accession and de¬ 
mise or abdication. 

Muhammad 'All, Viceroy (1805-1849) 

An outstanding soldier and statesman, Muham¬ 
mad 'All was the founder of modem Egypt and of 
the dynasty that ruled the country until the 1952 

Following the French invasion of Egypt (1798), 
the sultan sent an expeditionary force, including a 
contingent of Macedonian Albanians, of whom Mu¬ 
hammad 'All was an officer. After the defeat of the 
French and their departure in 1801, Muhammad 
'All stayed on and watched the ensuing confusion 
and struggle for power between the Mamluks, the 
Ottoman governor, and the Egyptian people, which 
he exploited for his own benefit. 

In 1805, having won the confidence of the inhabi¬ 
tants, he was asked by the 'ulemas (the Muslim) 
to become their ruler, and the sultan had to con¬ 
firm him as governor (wait). Muhammad 'All was 
subsequently able to get rid of his rivals and be¬ 
come the unchallenged master of the country. He 




now set oul lo transform Egypt into a powerful 
state self-sufficient economically, industrially, and 
agriculturally. He rebuilt the army and the navy, 
with which he achieved resounding successes and 
victories all around Egypt. He extended his influ¬ 
ence into Arabia, the Sudan, Syria, Crete, and Ana¬ 
tolia, upsetting the political balance in the area. 

With their interests seriously threatened, the for¬ 
eign powers intervened, and in 1840, Muhammad 
'All’s vast empire was reduced to Egypt and the 
Sudan. He was also given hereditary rule of Egypt. 

Muhammad 'All's physical and mental faculties 
deteriorated toward the end of his life, and he died 
in 1849, his son Ibrahim having predeceased him in 

Among the influential Copts who served under 
Muhammad 'All, supplying him with huge amounts 
of money from their private sources to finance his 
projects, was Mu'allim jikjis ai.jawiiarI (<l. 1810), 
and Mu'allim ghAli. Muhammad 'All also employed 
some Copts in key administrative positions as gov¬ 
ernors of provinces: Rizk Agha in Sharqiyvah, Ma- 
kram Agha in Atfih, MikhA’il Agha in Fashn, and 
Butrus Agha in Bardls (Riyad Suryal, 1984. pp. 49- 

It is said that when Muhammad 'All was ap¬ 
proached by Europeans seeking to form a company 
to finance the building of a canal between the Med¬ 
iterranean and the Red Sea, Mu'allim Ghali pointed 
out lo him the inherent danger of such a company 
to the sovereignty of Egypt. 

Abbas tnlml I, Khedive (1813-1854) 

From the beginning of his reign, 'Abbas Hilmi 
aimed at setting rules and policies contrary to those 
of his predecessors. He wanted to relieve the Egyp¬ 
tian economy of foreign pressure and influence by 
liquidating all projects of economic growth inaugu¬ 
rated by his grandfather, Muhammad 'All, which, in 
his opinion, rendered the economy of Egypt subser¬ 
vient to Europe. As a result, he closed all modern 
factories and all higher schools, and decreased the 
forces of both the army and the navy. He believed 
that his grandfather had opened the door wide for 
European influence and weakened the Ottoman em¬ 
pire by the destruction of its military power in 
Egypt. Because of his Ottoman education and up¬ 
bringing, he tended to oppose the policies of both 
Muhammad 'Ali and Ibrahim. Consequently, he de¬ 
viated from their policies and started persecuting 
all their former assistants in the European projects. 
In this way, 'Abbas thought to return Egypt to its 

Islamic and Oriental character and to free it from 
Western ambitions. But soon time proved his gross 

In fact, even his relationship with the Supreme 
Porte of Constantinople deteriorated later because 
of his attempt to suppress some of its administrative 
privileges granted under an 1846 treaty. Owing to 
Britain's favorable position with Turkey. 'Abbas 
thought to ask the English authorities to negotiate 
on his behalf with the Supreme Porte and in return 
offered the British a project of constructing a rail¬ 
way line from Alexandria to Suez via Cairo. In the 
meantime, he insisted that this project should be 
regarded as an Egyptian one to avoid the infiltra¬ 
tion of English influence into the country. 

This situation was indirectly affected by the out¬ 
break of the Crimean War between Russia and Tur¬ 
key. The czar offered Britain the opportunity to 
occupy Egypt in return for giving him a free hand 
to seize certain parts of Ottoman territory. Accord¬ 
ingly, 'Abbas hastened lo accept the Turkish sul¬ 
tan's proposal to enter the Crimean War, by rein¬ 
forcing the Egyptian army and the fortification of 
his own coasts against any possible incursions by 
the British navy. In the long run, Egypt was able to 
escape all hazards precipitated by this Oriental cri¬ 

Internally, the viceroy entertained the idea of 
transporting the Coptic community from Egypt to 
the Sudan and Ethiopia, thereby giving Egypt an 
unmixed Islamic color. This strange project was 
communicated to the Islamic religious authority for 
comment, and a clear jatwQ (religious opinion) was 
issued refuting this idea and informing the viceroy 
that the Copts were the original inhabitants of the 
land of Egypt and that their extermination would be 
both wrong and impractical. 

On 14 July 1854, ‘Abbas was assassinated by a 
group of conspirators from his own family in his 
own palace at Banha. At the time of his death, the 
railway line had reached Kafr al-Zayyat; it was com¬ 
pleted in the reign of his successor, Sa'Id Pasha. 

Sa'id, Khedive (1854-1863) 

Unlike his predecessor, 'Abbas Hilmi I, Sa'id en¬ 
couraged foreign participation in the Egyptian 
economy and administration, thus facilitating Euro¬ 
pean infiltration. He gave various concessions to 
foreign companies for the development of the coun¬ 
try, the most important being the construction of 
the Suez Canal. Consequently, by the end of Sa’Id's 
reign, Egypt had contracted huge debts. 



Sa'kl had great esteem for the Coptic patriarch, 
CYRIL iv (1854-1861), father of reform. He gave him 
permission to build a church in the Harit al-Saq- 
qayin quarter of Cairo. He also relied on the patri¬ 
arch to negotiate with Emperor Theodoras of Ethio¬ 
pia an end to the dispute between the two countries 
over the Sudanese frontiers. 

Isma il, Khedive (1863-1879) 

Through his Western education and his connec¬ 
tions in important European capitals at the time, 
Isma’il acquired substantial political experience. 
He ruled Egypt during a critical stage of its history, 
through which European pressure exerted itself 
throughout the country. 

To cany out the reforms that he had in mind, he 
had to have recourse to foreign aid and contracted 
several loans. He was therefore forced to usher the 
foreign presence and influence into Egvpt, since he 
relied on European monetary sources t<> finance his 
economic and political projects. 

Nevertheless, Isma’iPs reign was one of cultural 
enlightenment. As he was intent upon setting up a 
modern administrative system, Copts proved of 
great importance during his reign. He appointed 
several of them to the Ministry of Finance and 
other administrative branches of the government. 

During his reign, American missionaries started 
their campaign in Upper Egypt to convert Copts to 
Protestantism. They succeeded in annexing two 
well-known families of Asyut, the Wisas and the 
Khayyats, to the Evangelical church. The Copts 
fought against prosclytization. They had the full 
support of the khedlve, who sponsored a tour for 
Pope Demitrius (1862-1870) in Upper Egypt to con¬ 
front the missionary activity there. 

Al-Jam'iyyah al-Khayriyyah (Coptic Benevolent 
Society) was established in 1871 to provide educa¬ 
tional and social services to Copts. It was that socie¬ 
ty that later set up the Coptic Hospital. 

When Isma’il founded the first Egyptian Parlia¬ 
ment (1866), a number of Copts were elected mem¬ 
bers as representatives of some rural constituen¬ 

Tawftq, Khedive (1879-1892) 

Tawftq succeeded his father, Isma’il. after his de¬ 
position in 1879. His reign was beset by various 
political crises that he was loo weak to deal with, 
giving rise to 'Urabl’s revolt (1881) and the British 
occupation (1882). 

Lord Cromer, the High Commissioner, ran the 
country without any opposition from the khedive. 
He filled government posts with Europeans and 
preferred Syrian Christians to Copts, as he felt that 
the British were hated by Copts no less than by the 
Muslims. However, some Copts who had been ap¬ 
pointed prior to the occupation rose to high rank, 
such as boutros CHAU, who won the title Pasha. 

Solidarity between Muslims and Copts was mani¬ 
fest during the 'Urabi revolt. When the khedive or¬ 
dered the dismissal of 'UrfibI as minister of war, 
over five hundred Egyptian representatives, includ¬ 
ing the two religious leaders, the shaykh of al-Azhar 
Mosque and the patriarch of Alexandria, CYRIL V 
(1874-1927). on 22 July 1882 signed a declaration 
of support of 'Urabi and a condemnation of the 
khedive's surrender to foreign powers. Among the 
other signatories were Boutros Ghftll and other 
Copts (Al-RafiT, 1966, pp. 439-448). 

'AbbAs Hllml II, Khedive (1892-1914) 

The fifth member of the Muhammad ‘All dynasty 
to rule Egypt, 'Abbas Nil ml acceded to the throne 
at the age of eighteen. His reign was eventful be¬ 
cause of the role he played in the national move¬ 
ment and his policy in relation to the British occu¬ 
pation of Egypt. Unlike his father, Khedive Tawllq, 
he resented the idea of being a puppet in British 

hands. He therefore dismissed Mustafa Fahml Pasha 

• • 

on 15 January 1893. This was the first cabinet to 
include Boutros Ghali Pasha as a minister, who was 
to become prime minister in November 1908. 

At the outset of'Abbas HilmI II's reign, there was 
disagreement between the members of the COMMUNI¬ 
TY council, on the one hand, and Pope Cyril V, on 
the other, over the methods of reform. The council 
asked for the removal of the pope to DAYR AL-BARA- 
MCJS, where he stayed for approximately one year 
before returning to his seat in Cairo through the 
intervention of some Copts opposed to the council. 

During 'Abbas Hilmi's reign, a group of Coptic 
intellectuals started to mobilize Coptic public opin¬ 
ion in support of certain sectarian requirements 
that were opposed by Boutros Ghftll. thus leading to 
radical trends in the political movement. This 
reached its climax with the assassination of Boutros 
Ghal! by a Muslim fundamentalist and triggered 
sectarian riots. 

In 1911 the Copts held a congress at Asyut (see 
COPTIC CONGRESS OF ASYUT) to discuss their sectarian 
demands. Another congress, known as the EGYPTIAN 
CONFERENCE of Heliopolis, organized by Muslim 


personalities and some Copts, was held in Cairo. It 
sought a solution to the sectarian crisis and put an 
end to the riots. 

The British occupation forces took the opportuni¬ 
ty to muzzle the press, ban political meetings, and 
liquidate the nationalist movement. 

Hussein Kamil, Sultan (1914-1917) 

When World War I broke out in 1914, 'Abbas 
Hilmi II was on a visit to the sultan in Constantino¬ 
ple. The British seized the opportunity to depose 
him, on the grounds of his loyalty to their enemy. 
They installed his uncle Hussein Kamel with the 
title Sultan, the first Egyptian ruler to carry this 
title. Egypt was declared a British protectorate, and 
martial law was imposed. The economic resources 
of the country were put in the service of the British 
army, as Egypt became a military base. This in¬ 
flamed public feelings against the British, culminat¬ 
ing in the eruption of the 1919 revolt. 

Hussein Kamel died in October 1917, after a 
reign of three years. His son declined to succeed 
him to the throne, which was therefore offered to 
his brother, Fouad. 

Fouad I, King (1917-1936) 

Following the death of Hussein Kamel, his broth¬ 
er, Fouad, occupied the throne from 1917 to 1936. 
As a young man, Fouad had accompanied his fa¬ 
ther, Isma’Il, in his exile to Italy, where he finished 
his education at the military academy, after which 
he was appointed artillery officer in the army and 
later military attache at the Turkish embassy in Vi¬ 

Fouad's reign was characterized by his autocrat¬ 
ic approach to parliamentary life. Alter the prom¬ 
ulgation of the 1923 constitution, he retained the 
right to dismiss the government, suspend the con¬ 
stitution, and dissolve Parliament. The wafd gov¬ 
ernment was replaced by various authoritarian 
cabinets. When the constitution was restored, nego¬ 
tiations with Britain were resumed to pave the way 
for the 1936 Anglo-Egyptian treaty. 

Two major positive achievements were fulfilled 
during King Fouad's reign: the establishment of the 
first Egyptian university, which revitalized the intel¬ 
lectual life of the country; and the foundation of the 
Misr Bank in 1920, which helped to counterbalance 
the excessive domination of foreign capital. 

In addition to playing a prominent part in the 
1919 revolution under Sa’d Zaghliil, the Copts were 
active in the political and pariiamentary life of the 

country, with such well-known names as makram 
EBEID and WISSA WASSEF. They found conditions fa¬ 
vorable for pursuing social and cultural activities 
by setting up benevolent societies and educational 

Farouk I, King (1936-1952) 

The last monarch of the Muhammad 'All dynasty, 
Farouk succeeded his father, Fouad, in May 1936, 
as a young man straight back from school in En¬ 
gland. Farouk’s reign coincided with various politi¬ 
cal and social movements that eventually led to the 
1952 revolution. Among these may be mentioned 
Young Egypt (Misr al-Fatah) and the Muslim Breth¬ 
ren ( al-lkhwan al-Muslimun), both of which adopted 
fascist ideologies within an Islamic framework. The 
reaction to these movements was manifest in the 
formation of the short-lived Coptic Nation Associa¬ 
tion (Jama'at al-Ummah al-Qibtiyyah). 

The search for a true Egyptian identity polarized 
two distinct tendencies: to consider Egypt as part of 
the Mediterranean world, with its roots in ancient 
Egyptian civilization, and to emphasize Egypt's Is¬ 
lamic past. In addition, a new current of Arab na¬ 
tionalism led to the foundation of the Arab League 
in March 1945. 

In 1948 the outcome of the Palestine war dam¬ 
aged Farouk's standing, and the country was seeth¬ 
ing with the rumors of corruption in high places. 
The Cairo fire of 26 January 1952 was the begin¬ 
ning of a series of events that culminated in Fa¬ 
rouk's abdication and the proclamation of the Egyp¬ 
tian republic. 


'Abd al-'A/.Im Ramadan. Taiawwur al-Harakah al- 
Wataniyyah ft Misr, 1936-1948. Beirut, 1974, 

'Abd al-Rahman al-Jabartl. 'Abjd'ib al-Athdr ft al-Ta - 
rajim wa-al-Akhbar, vol. 4. Cairo, A.H. 1297. 

Abd al-Rahman al-RafiT. Fi A’qab al-Thawrah al- 
Misriyyah, 3 vols. Cairo, 1946-1951. 

-L. 'A$r Ism&’ll. 2 vols. Cairo, 1948. 

- Al-Thawrah al-'Urabiyyah wa-al Ihtildl al-ln- 

jilizl. Cairo, 1966. 

Ahmad Abd-al Rahim Mustafa. Misr wa-al-Mas'alah 
al-Misriyyah 1875-1882. Cairo. 1965. 

Chriol, Valentine. The Egyptian Problem. London, 

Cromer, Lord. Modem Egypt. 2 vols. London, 1908. 
Elgood, P. G. The Transit of Egypt. London, 1928. 
Ghorbal, S. Muhammad 'Alt al-Kabir. Cairo, 1944. 
Hanotaux, G. Histoire de la nation Egyplienne. Paris, 



Ikbal Ali Shah. Found King of Egypt. London, 1936. 
Jerrold, B. Egypt Under Ismail Pasha. London, 1879. 
King, J. W. Historical Dictionary of Egypt. London, 

landau, J. Parliaments and Parties in Egypt. New 
York. 1954. 

Lallfah Salim. Misr ft ul-Hurb al-'Alumiyyah al-iild. 
Cairo, 1982. 

Lloyd, Lord. Egypt Since Cromer. 2 vols. London, 

MacCoan, J. C. Egypt Under Ismail. London, 1899. 
Manassd Yuhanna. Tarikh al-Kanlsah al-Qibtiyyah, 
pp. 508-510. Rcpr. Cairo, 1983. 

Marlowe, J. Anglo-Egyplian Relations, 1800-/953. 
London, 1954. 

Mlkha'il Sharubiin. Al-Kdfi fi Tarikh Misr al-Qadim 
wa-al Hadith. Cairo, 1900. 

Precis de Vhistoirc de I'Egypte. Cairo, 1932-1935. 
Oalllnl Fahmi (Pasha). Mudhakkirdt 'an Ba'd llawd- 
dith al-Mddl, vol. 1. Cairo, 1931. 

Ramzl T&drus. Al-Aqbdl fl-al-Qum ul-Tshrln, vol. 2. 

Cairo, 1911. 

Riyad Suryal. Al-Mujtama ' al-Qibti fi Misr fi al-Qarn 
al-Tdsi' 'Ashar. Cairo, 1984. 

Sabry, M. VEmpire egyptian sous Ismail. Paris, 

Safran, N. Egypt in Search of Political Community. 
Cambridge, Mass., 1961. 

Scholch, A. Egypt for the Egyptians. London, 1982. 
Tawfiq Iskarus. Nawdbigh al-Aqbdt wa- 
Mashdhiruhum fi al-Qarn al-Tdsi' 'Ashar, vol. 2. 
Cairo, 1913. 

Tignor, R. Modernization and British Colonial Rule 
in Egypt, 1882-1914. Princeton, N.J., 1966. 
Ya'qub Nakhlah Rufaylah. Tarikh al-Unnnah al-Qib- 
tiyyah, pp. 282-87. Cairo, 1899. 

Youssef, A. Independent Egypt. London. 1940. 

Ra'Of 'Abiias Hamkd 

MUHAMMAD RAMZI (1871-1945). Egyptian 
scholar. He was born and educated at the town of 
al-Mansurah in the Delta and later at the School of 
Law in Cairo. In 1892 he joined the Ministry of 
Finance as a clerical employee, and by 1930 he had 
been promoted to the position of inspector general 
of land taxation. During his long career, he visited 
every region of the country, making extensive sur¬ 
veys of every town, village, hamlet, and farm. He 
was keenly interested in the names, history, and 
background of every area, which he checked and 
revised in the light of information given mainly by 
al-MaqrizI’s Kitab al-Khitat (Land Survey) and 'All 
Mubarak’s Al-Khitat al-Tawfiqiyyah, as well as many 
medieval and modem geographers, including such 
French geographers as Emile Amelineau, Jean Mas- 

pero, E.-M. Quatrem&re, and G. Daressy. He thus 
became the leading authority on Egyptian topony¬ 

In 1941 he published Al-Dalil al-Jughrafl (Geo¬ 
graphical Guide), but his most valuable work, Al- 
Qdmus al-Jughrdfi lil-Bildd al-Misriyyah (Geographi¬ 
cal Dictionary, 2 vols.), was posthumously pub¬ 
lished. Its importance lies in the fact that it is fully 
comprehensive, covering Egyptian toponymy from 
ancient times to the present. 

Fuad Meg ally 

MUHDl, MUHAMMAD AL-, Muslim scholar, 
born as a Copt about 1737 and died a Muslim in 
1815. Muhdi became one of the leading Egyptian 
'ulamd' (Muslim scholars) of his time. As a child of 
Coptic parents, he was originally named Hibat- 
Allah. About 1750 his father, Abu Fanyus (Epiphan- 
ios) Fadlallah, became intendant-comptroller under 
Sulaymfin al-K&shif, who employed the young Copt 
on condition of conversion to Islam. Eventually, he 
enrolled him for study at al-Azhar. When he left his 
family as a young boy of barely thirteen years and 
adopted Islam by the new name Muhhammad al- 
Muhdi, the famous shaykh al-Hifni became his tutor 
and foster father. After his education by the leading 
teachers of al-Azhar, he received the qualification to 
teach in 1776, and two years later he occupied a 
vacant chair at this mosque school. He was a pro¬ 
ponent of the Shafi'ite school of law. 

Earlier in his career, besides being a Muslim 
scholar, he undertook administrative tasks in the 
government. Because of his good contact with Su- 
layman al-Kashif, he got a post as secretary in the 
DlwSn al-'Umuml, the council of the supreme digni¬ 
taries in Ottoman-Mamluk Egypt, in 1763. In 1766 
'All Bey appointed him secretary general in his of¬ 
fice, a position that he lost upon the overthrow of 
'Ali Bey (1772); he regained it after the death of 
Muhammad Bey (1775). During the following peri¬ 
od he maintained good relations with the beys dom¬ 
inant at the time, especially Isma'Il Bey (1786- 
1791), who also gave him duties in the mint, the 
slaughterhouse, as well as the administration of the 

Muhdi made use of his insight into the methods 
of the dominant caste to accumulate an enormous 
fortune for himself through his administrative activ¬ 
ities. In the course of the political crisis and the 
plague of the year 1791, he was able to procure 
numerous leases of tax farms and management of 



foundations. He also participated in trading compa¬ 
nies. When Bonaparte conquered Egypi in 1798, he 
was, with his private businesses and the pensions he 
obtained from the Ottoman stale, one of the wealth¬ 
iest 'ularna in the country. 

Muhammad al-Muhdi immediately began to col¬ 
laborate with the French and was appointed in the 
post of secretary general in the newly formed gen¬ 
eral council. He soon became an important, if not 
the most important, support of the French rule in 
Egypt. He edited the Arabic proclamations of the 
commanding generals in cooperation with the 
French interpreters and Orientalists, lie willingly 
placed his experience in governmental administra¬ 
tion at the disposal of the French generals and ad¬ 
ministrators, and he made many personal friend¬ 
ships with them. Muhdl used his position of 
confidence in many critical situations to moderate 
the policy of the French against the Muslim popula¬ 
tion. His reputation and his influence on his fellow 
believers often allowed him to calm the overheated 
mood and to subdue attempts at rebellion at the 
very beginning. Even after the failure ol the French 
military venture, he remained in written contact 
with some of the French, especially with Jean Jo¬ 
seph Marcel, the former director of the "Imprim- 
erie Nationale" at Cairo. Later Marcel published a 
translation of Muhdl’s works. Among them there 
are some poems that reflect a view of religious 
toleration unusual for a Muslim scholar of the 
eighteenth century, possibly caused partly by his 
contact with the French. 

In spite of his collaboration with the French, the 
return of Egypt to Ottoman sovereignty did not 
cause him any difficulties. He succeeded quickly in 
making himself liked and indispensable, thereby 
saving his posts and benefices. In the following 
years of internal struggle for power between the 
Mamluk beys and the Ottoman pashas, he behaved 
as neutrally as he could, but lie justified, along with 
other leading 'ulama\ the seizure of power by MU¬ 
HAMMAD 'At.I in July 1805. After this event, he with¬ 
drew' a little fiom politics and devoted himself to 
the administration of his tax farms and his business¬ 
es. He gave lectures at al-Azhar and occupied him¬ 
self privately with scientific-technical experiments. 
When in 1809 the leader of the Ashiif sect. 'Umar 
Makram, fell into disgrace with Muhammad 'All, 
Muhdl made use of the situation at the expense of 
the exiled Makram to secure again more political 
influence and more profitable offices. 

After the death of the shaykh al-Azhar al-Sharqaw'I 
in 1812, Muhammad al-Muhdi was elected as his 

successor in the office of the director of al-Azhar 
and head of all scholars in Egypt. For somewhat 
mysterious reasons, however, Muhammad 'All sub¬ 
stituted him shortly afterward by another person. 
He died in Januaiy 1815. 


'Abd al-Rah man al-, Jabartl. AjiTih al-Athar fi al- 
Tar&jim wu-al-Akhbur, Vols. 3-4. Cairo, 1879- 

Marcel, J. J. Contes du cheykh el-Mohdy, Vols. 1-3. 
Paris, 1835. 

Motzki, H. Dimma und Egalitc. Die nichtmuslimi- 
schen Minderheitcn Agyptens in der zweiten Hdljte 
das IS. Jahrhunderts und die Expedition Bona - 
partes (1798-1801). Bonn, 1979. 

Harald Motzki 

MUHTASIB, AL-. See Hisbah, al-. 

MUI, SAINT, martyr in fourth-century Egypt. Mui 
is known only by some fragments of an Encomium 
in his honor, by an unknown author, published by 
W. E. Crum. The fragments report some miracles 
performed by him w'lien he was in prison in Alexan¬ 
dria, his confrontation with the prefect in the law- 
court, and the tortures inflicted upon him. The be¬ 
ginning and the part dealing with the martyrdom 
are missing. 


Crum, W. E. Theological Texts from Coptic Papyri. 
Anecdota Oxoniensia, Semitic Series 12. Oxford, 

Tito Oriandi 

MUMMIFICATION. There is evidence for mum¬ 
mification in Egypt from the beginning of historical 
times. Herodotus and Diodorus report on the differ¬ 
ent ways of mummifying. The practice arose from 
the idea that preservation of bodily integrity is the 
presupposition for life after death. This idea is evi¬ 
dently also the reason for statements in martyr leg¬ 
ends of the "Coptic consensus" (Baumcister, 1972, 
pp. 146ff.). After the torture but before the death of 
the martyr, an archangel comes down from heaven 
and removes any bodily mutilations arising from 
the martyrdom, so it can be affirmed that "there 
was no kind of injury to his body, and no damage 
was done to him at all.” 


As late as 450 shenute. in a sermon on the resur¬ 
rection, came to terms with such ideas: "Even if 
your eyes are torn out, you will not arise in the 
resurrection without eyes. . . . Even if your head is 
taken off, you will rise again with it on you. Even if 
every member is cut oIT, you will not only arise 
without having (he little finger of your hand cut off, 
or [the little toe] of your fool, but you will also 
arise as a spiritual body." Hence it is not surprising 
that no criticism of mummification was voiced by 
the church. Only Arsenius, who lived in the fifth 
century, was, according to the opinion of H. G. 
Evelyn-White (1932, Vol. 2, p. 163 n. 7), against 
mummification. For Augustine ( semw 361, De res- 
urrectione mortuorum) mummification is proof that 
the ancient Egyptians believed in the resurrection 
of the dead. In the story of Joseph, deriving from 
the fourth century, Jesus is brought into association 
with mummification. After the death of his father, 
Joseph, he lays his hands on the body like a magus 
and says, "The stench of death shall not be master 
over thee, nor shall thine ear's decay, nor shall the 
festering matter ever flow from thy body, nor shall 
thy burial-cloth pass into the eaith nor thy flesh 
which I have laid upon thee, but it shall remain fast 
to thy body until the day of the thousand-year ban¬ 
quet." This is the literary parallel to mummification 
in practice. It is further reported that when the 
Jews came to lay Joseph to rest after their manner 
of burial, they found him already prepared for buri¬ 
al, "with the burial [cloth] clinging to his body as if 
it had been attached with iron clasps" (chap. 27, 
If.; Moron/., 1951, p. 23). This is intended to dem¬ 
onstrate that Joseph had been mummified by Jesus’ 

Although so far only a few Coptic cemeteries 
have been systematically excavated, mummies of 
Christians have been authenticated beyond dispute, 
particularly in Karara, Antinoopolis, Akhmlm, 
Thebes, and Aswan. From the funerary equipment 
in the graves, these cemeteries are to be dated from 
the fifth to the eighth century. 

The examination of Coptic mummies (Dawson 
and Smith, 1924, pp. I27fl\) showed that down to 
the sixth century the usual method of mummifying 
in the Greco-Roman period was retained. The skin 
and internal and external organs were generally 
preserved, and could be investigated. The mummies 
of the seventh and eighth centuries excavated at 
Thebes, on the other hand, were poorly preserved, 
which can probably be traced back to a change in 
mummification: no incision was made in the body, 
nor was it embedded in soda; rather, it was sur¬ 

rounded with large quantities of coarse salt, 
wrapped in cloths, and swathed with mummy 
bands. In addition salt was scattered in the mummy 
bands. The use of juniper berries was also estab¬ 
lished (Dawson and Smith, 1924, pp. 130ff.). 

Mummies were depicted in book illustrations. In 
the Alexandrian Chronicle the patriarch TIMOTHY I 
(d. 385) is represented as a mummy (Koptische 
Kunst, p. 450, no. 623). This illustration does not, 
however, prove that lie was mummified, lor Lazarus 
also is represented as a mummy in early Christian 
and medieval art, although he was not mummified 
(Hermann, 1962). 

On the evidence of his testament (in Creek Papyri 
in the British Museum, I.77.57ff. [London, 1893]), 
bishop ABRAHAM OF hermonthis (beginning of the 
seventh century) was to be mummified. He also 
promoted the mummifying of Christians of his dio¬ 
cese; on the evidence of his correspondence (Crum, 
1902, no. 68), he arranged for the provision of 
mummy bands and shrouds for the faithful of his 
see. In several monasteries under his jurisdiction 
on the west side of Thebes mummified monks were 
exhumed—for instance, in Dayr al-Madinah, in the 
monastery of dayr epiphanius. and in those of Phoi- 
bammon and of Mark. In the monasteries of the 
Wadi al-Najmn and in churches in Middle Egypt, 
well-preserved mummies are in safekeeping. They 
are said to be Coptic martyrs and patriarchs of the 
Middle Ages (Schmitz, 1930, 11 and lit.). 

On the evidence of papyri, it appears that as early 
as about 300 the priest Apollo kept the mummy of 
a Christian woman, who was sent there for burial, 
in the township of Dush, situated in the Khargah 


Baumeister, T. Martyr invictus: Der Miirtyrer als 
SinnhihJ der Erldsung in der Legende and ini Knit 
der friiheti koplischen Kirche. Munster, 1972. 
Castel, G. "Etude d'une momie copte." In Horn- 
mages a S. Sauneron, Vol. 2. Cairo, 1979. 

Crum, W. E. Coptic Ostraca from the Collection of 
the Egypt Exploration Fund, the Cairo Museum 
and Others. London, 1902. 

Dawson, W. R., and G. E. Smith. Egyptian Mum¬ 
mies. London, 1924. 

Dzierzykray-Rogalski, T., and E. Prominska. "Osse- 
ments de Peglise copte dc St. Marc de Deir el 
Medineh." Etudes ct traveaux 8 (1975): 151 —57. 
Evelyn-White, H. G. The Monasteries of the Wadi 'n 
Natrun, 3 vols. New York, 1926-1933. 

Godlewski, W. "The Late Roman Necropolis in Deu¬ 
el Bahari." In Graeco-Coptica. Griechen und Kop■ 



ten ini hyzantinischen Agypten, ctl. P. Nagel. 
Martin-Luther-U n iversiUit Halle-Wittonbcrg, Wiss- 
enschaflliche Beitriige 48, pp. 111-19. Halle. 

Hermann, A. "Agyptologische Marginalien zur spiit- 
anliken Ikonographie. I. Lazarus und Osiris." 
Jahrbuch fiir Antike und Christentum 5 (1962):60- 

Herodotus. The History of Herodotus, Vol. 2, pp. 
118-25, nos. 85-90, ed. George Rawlinson. New 
York, 1893. 

Koptische Kunst. Christentum am Nil. Catalog of the 
exhibit at Villa Hiigel, Essen, 3 May-15 August 

Krause, M. Apa Abraham von Hermonthis. Ein oher- 
dgyptischer Bischof urn 600, 2 vols. Ph. diss., Ber¬ 
lin, 1956. 

-"Das Weiterleben agyptischer Vorstellungen 

und Brauche im koptischen Totenwcsen." In Das 
rdmisch-byzantinische Agypten. Aklen des interna - 
tionalen Symposions 26.-30. September 1978 in 
Trier, ed. G. Grimm, H. Hcinen, and E. Winter. 
Aegyptiaea Trevcrcnsia 2, pp. 85-92. Mainz, 1983. 

Morenz, S. Die Geschichte von Joseph dem Zimmer- 
mann ubcrsctzt, crldutert und untersucht. Textc 
und Untersuchungen 56. Berlin, 1951. 

Sandison, A. T. "Balsaniierung." In Lexikon der 
Agyptologie, Vol. 1, cols. 610-14. Wiesbaden, 

Schmitz, A. L. "Das Totenwcsen der Kopten. Kri- 
tische Ubersicht liber die literarischen und monu- 
rnentalen Quellen." Zeitschrift fiir dgyptische 
Sprache und Altcrtumskunde 65 (1930): 1-25. 

Sternberg, H. "Mumie, Mumienhiillc, -binden, 
-netz." In Lexikon der Agyptologie, Vol. 4, cols. 
213-16. Wiesbaden, 1982. 

Martin Krause 

MUMMY LABELS, tablets, mostly made of 
wood, on which are stated the names of the de¬ 
ceased, his parents, and his grandfather, and infor¬ 
mation about age, date of death, and the place to 
which he belonged (sometimes also his occupa¬ 
tion). The majority are in Demotic and Greek (Cop¬ 
tic tablets are also known). The mummy labels 
were hung round the deceased's neck by a cord 
after MUMMIFICATION and the wrapping of the mum¬ 
my in bandages, for identification and transport to 
the place of burial. 


Krebs, F. "Mumienetiketten aus Agypten." Zeit¬ 
schrift fiir dgyptische Sprache und Altcrtumskunde 
32 (1894):36-5I. 

Quaegebeur, J. "Mummy Labels: An Orientation.” 
In Textes grecs, demotiques el bilingues, ed. E. 
Boswinkel and P. W. Pestman. Papyrologica 
Lugduno-Batava 19, pp. 232-59. Leiden, 1978. 
Cites older literature. 

Martin Krause 

French Coptologist and bibliographer. He was born 
in Meursault, C6te-d'Or. He was librarian of the 
Cairo Museum (1908-1925) and succeeded Adolphe 
Cattaui as secretary of the Societe royale de Geog¬ 
raphic de l’Egypte (1924-1945). He published many 
articles in journals, most of them devoted to Coptic 
texts and the subject of early Christianity in Egypt. 
He died in Cairo. 


Dawson, W. R., and E. P. Uphill. Who Was Who in 
Egyptology, p. 209. London, 1972. 

Kammerer, W., comp. A Coptic Bibliography. Ann 
Arbor, Mich., 1950; repr. New York, 1969. 

Aziz S. Atiya 

MUQAWQAS, AL-. See Cyrus. 

MURAD KAMIL (1907-1975), Egyptian scholar 
and educator in ancient and modern languages. He 
studied under Enno Littman and had a brillant aca¬ 
demic career in Egypt and Germany. He specialized 
in Semitic languages, ancient and modern, those of 
the Middle East as well as those of Ethiopia. A 
master of Greek, Latin, and classical Arabic, he was 
also well acquainted with many Western languages, 
including German, French, English, Spanish, and 
Italian. He taught at Cairo University, the Coptic 
clerical college, in the Institute of Coptic Studies, 
the University of Freiburg, and the Institute of Ara¬ 
bic Studies at the I>eague of Arab States. Murad 
headed the education mission delegated to Ethiopia 
by the Egyptian government and was for two years 
(1943-1945) undersecretary of state at the Ethio¬ 
pian Ministry of Education. He founded and direct¬ 
ed the Higher School of Languages in Cairo. He 
was a member of the Academy of Arabic Language 
and many other scholarly institutions. Always deep¬ 
ly concerned with the problems of the Coptic 
church, Murad took part in several of the protract¬ 
ed negotiations between the Coptic and the Ethio- 


pian churches. He bequeathed his library, compris¬ 
ing about 20,000 volumes, to the Coptic 


Ayad, A. B. ''Bibliography of Murad Kamil." Bulle¬ 
tin de la Sociele royale d'Archeologie copte 23 

Ghali, M. B. "Obituary." Bulletin de la Sociele ro¬ 
yale d'Archeologie copte 23 (1976-1978):299-301. 
Kamil, M. Coptic Egypt. Cairo, 1968. 

Mirrit Boutros Ghali 

MURQUS. See Mark or Marqos. 

MURQUS AL-ANTUNI, saint mentioned as a 
hermit of the Monastery of Saint Antony during the 
reign of the Mamluk sultans (fourteenth century). 
We do not know the date of his birth, or who his 
parents were and what their attitude to the ruling 
power was, nor at what date he entered the Monas¬ 
tery of Saint Antony. We know only that renuncia¬ 
tions of the Christian faith were numerous down to 
the accession of the Patriarch Matthew i (in 1378). 
The greatest persecution the Coptic community had 
undergone raged from about 1351, greatly dimin¬ 
ishing the number of Christians. Matthew's acces¬ 
sion marked a spiritual and nationalist renewal of 
the Copts in the face of the alien Mamluk power. 

G. Graf, in his Geschichte der christlichen arab- 
ischen Literatur (Vol. 2, p. 475), gives the date of 
his death as 1386. His tomb became a place of 
pilgrimage and quickly became known through the 
miracles that took place there. A chapel containing 
his relics was built at the Monastery of Saint Anto¬ 
ny, a chapel mentioned by J. M. Vansleb in 1672. C. 
Sicard also mentions it (Vol. 1, p. 25) in the journey 
he made to the monastery in 1716. After Sicard's 
visit, the chapel was reconstructed in 1766 (Fedden, 
1937, p. 56). It was in this chapel that the Francis¬ 
cans were authorized to celebrate the mass in the 
seventeenth century. They resided at the Monastery 
of Saint Antony to have their young missionaries 
taught Arabic. 

At present this church serves the monks for the 
period of Lent, but pilgrimage appears to have fall¬ 
en out of use, for Viaud does not mention it in his 
book on the Coptic pilgrimages. 

Mark’s feast day is 8 Ablb. 


Crum, W. E. "Hagiographica from Leipzig Manu¬ 
scripts." Proceedings of Society of Biblical Arche¬ 
ology 29 (1907):289-96; 301-307. 

Fedden, H. R. "A Study of the Monastery of Saint 
Antony in the Eastern Desert." Bulletin of the 
Faculty of Arts 5 (1937): 1-60. 

Graf, G. Catalogue des manuscrits arabcs-chreticns 
conserves au Caire. (Studi e Testi 63). Vatican 
City, 1934. 

Meinardus, O. Christian Egypt, Ancient and Modern. 
Cairo, 1965; 2nd ed., 1977. 

-"The Mediaeval Graffiti in the Monasteries 

of SS. Antony and Paul." Collectanea, Studia Ori- 
entalia Christiana II (1966):513-27. 

Sicard, C. Oeuvres, 3 vols. Bibliotheque d'Etudes 
83-85. Cairo, 1982. 

Troupeau, G. Catalogue des manuscrits arabes, Vol. 
1, Manuscrits chretiens. Paris, 1972-1974. 

Vansleb, J. Nouvclle relation en forme de journal 
d'un voyage jail en Egypte cn 1672 ct 1673. Paris, 
1677. Transl. as The Present State of Egypt. Lon¬ 
don, 1678. 

Viaud, G. Les pelerinages copies en Egypte; d'apres 
les notes du Qommos Jacob Muyser. Bibliotheque 
d' 6tudcs copies 15. Cairo, 1979. 

RenIvGeorgrs Coouin 

MURQUS IBN QANBAR, late-twelfth-century 
reformer. He worked to reintroduce the secret con¬ 
fession and for the more frequent administration of 
communion, even outside liturgical services. These 
and other innovations, such as the abolition of cir¬ 
cumcision before baptism for the Copts and chang¬ 
es in the rules of fasting and the use of the sign of 
the cross, were strongly opposed by the official de¬ 
fenders of Coptic morals and customs, but he had a 
great following for a time. His elevation to the sta¬ 
tus of priest and monk under Patriarch JOHN v 
(1147-1167) had been seen as a serious mistake 
and as immoral and illegal. He was repeatedly dis¬ 
ciplined and drew closer to the Melchites, eventual¬ 
ly joining them formally. After his temporary return 
to the Coptic church, the Melchite patriarch ban¬ 
ished him to dayr al-qusayr. southeast of Cairo. 
Here he spent the last twenty years of his life as an 
administrator. He wrote prolifically to implement 
his reforms, but his works have been lost for the 
most part and are known only through writings 
opposing him, especially those by mIkhaIl of dami- 
ETTA. There is a commentary on the Pentateuch (see 
his, as judged by style and subject, that is, interpre- 


tations are made on the basis of symbolic rather 
historical or dictionary meanings of words and ac¬ 
tions, with an emphasis on the confession and pen¬ 

Vincent Frederick 

MURQUS IBN ZAR'AH. See Mark III, Saint. 

WANl, eighteenth-century Copt. Three letters are 
associated with this name. A Jirjis al-Qibti (George 
the Copt) who had taken up the Roman Catholic 
faith sent two letters to Murqus with arguments for 
the Roman Catholic doctrine, a refutation of the 
Monophysitc errors, and an invitation to conver¬ 
sion. Murqus' letter in reply declined the invitation, 
and its polemical message apparently had the effect 
that Jirjis returned to the Coptic faith and accepted 
the penance that the bishop of ABO TlJ, Christodou- 
Ius, laid on him. The extant manuscript of the let¬ 
ters dates to 1795-1796. 

Vincent Frederick 

MURQUS SIMAYKAH (1864-1944), public ser¬ 
vant and founder of the Coptic museum in Cairo. 
Born to an old Coptic family of clerks and magis¬ 
trates, he had a distinguished career in the govern¬ 
ment service, but this was not enough to occupy his 
time after he reached middle age. He then devoted 
himself to public affairs in the Legislative Assembly, 
the Higher Education Council, and the Coptic Com¬ 
munity Council. (AL-MAJLIS ALMILLI), where he was 
an active and a vocal member. He was awarded the 
title of pasha for his public service. 

From early youth, he was attracted by the numer¬ 
ous and varied remains of the Egyptian heritage, 
but he was particularly partial to the monuments 
and objects of the Christian period, which then 
tended to be neglected for the more grandiose re¬ 
mains of other periods. 

In his memoirs, not yet published, he describes 
how he was influenced by reading Butler, Strzygow- 
sky, and Somers Clarke. The first two of these were 
to become personal friends, as well as most of the 
scholars who studied the art and the language of 
Christian Egypt during his lifetime. 

Thanks to his efforts, the ancient Coptic churches 
were placed under the administration directed by 
the Commission for the Preservation of Arab Monu¬ 
ments. This commission was established in 1881 

and Murqus Simaykah, a member since 1906, later 
became chairman of its permanent committee; he 
spared neither time nor effort to ensure the conti¬ 
nuity and the high standard of excellence in its 

The greatest achievement of his life was the cre¬ 
ation of the Coptic Museum. This was founded by 
him in 1908, in a room next to the Church of the 
Virgin in Old Cairo (al-MU'ALLAQAH ) in order to col¬ 
lect art objects and other remains of Christian 
Egypt. He was able to interest the enlightened pub¬ 
lic of Egypt in his enterprise; an imposing list of 
private subscriptions preceded an annual subven¬ 
tion from the state. The museum was systematically 
developed through the untiring efforts of its found¬ 
er and it slowly took on its present form. In 1931, it 
was put under the control of the ministry of educa¬ 
tion, without prejudice to the rights of the patriar¬ 
chate and the churches on its contents. The con¬ 
stant development of the museum required the 
building of an important new wing. A significant 
step was the transfer to the Coptic Museum of the 
imposing Christian collection from the Egyptian 
Museum. This collection had been started by G. 
MASI’ERO, who was one of the first to call attention 
to the archaeological and cultural importance of 
the Christian era of Egypt. In 1983 and 1984, the 
Antiquities Department completed an important 
renovation and modernization of the museum. 

Murqus Simaykah also devoted much attention to 
recording and cataloging the Coptic and Christian- 
Arabic manuscripts in Egypt, with the collaboration 
of the museum’s librarian, yassa *abd AL-MASIH. 
These are preserved in the libraries of the Coptic 
Museum and of the patriarchates in Cairo and Alex¬ 
andria, as well as in monasteries and churches. 
Some institutions, including the SOCIETY OF COPTIC 
ARCHAEOLOGY, sporadically continued this enter¬ 
prise, but much remains to be done. 

His effigy in bronze stands at the entrance to the 
museum that was his life’s work. 


Ghali, Mirrit Boutros. "N6crologie” (Obituary). Bul¬ 
letin de la Societe d' archeologie 10 (1944):207. 
Simaykah, Murqus. Short Guide to the Coptic Muse¬ 
um and the Principal Churches of Cairo. Cairo, 

Mirrit Boutros Ghali 

English Egyptologist and Coptologist. She was born 



in Calcutta. Al first, she intended to have a nursing 
career, but she abandoned this goal when she did 
not qualify in England. She was the first woman to 
become a full-time Egyptologist. She entered Uni¬ 
versity College, London, in 1894 and studied under 
J. H. Walker, F. L. Griffith, and Flinders Petrie, 
becoming a junior lecturer in 1898. She published 
mainly in the field of Egyptology, but also issued a 
limited number of works in the field of Coptic stud¬ 
ies. She died at Welwyn, Hertfordshire. 


Dawson, W, R., and E. P. Uphill. Who Was Who in 
Egyptology , pp. 210-11. London, 1972. 

Kammcrer, W., comp. A Coptic Bibliography. Ann 
Arbor, Mich., 1950; repr. New York, 1969. 

Aziz S. Atiya 

MUSA AL-ASWAD. See Moses the Black, Saint. 


Not all ancient Coptic artifacts—whether the most 
commonplace items, those to be classified as art, or 
fragments of architectural sculptures and mural 
paintings—have remained in situ. A great number 
have disappeared, and of the objects that have sur¬ 
vived, most have been placed in private or public 
collections in Egypt and elsewhere throughout the 
world. These items merit study, for though some 
offer but a sampling, the majority—via the various 
techniques employed in their creation—serve to fill 
out one's picture of Coptic culture and enable one 
to trace the evolution of its ail and crafts according 
to the stages of its history and its characteristics. 

Therefore, it is necessary to present a survey of 
the artifacts in these collections. Emphasis is placed 
on those open to the general public, of which the 
greatest number belong to museums or are con¬ 
nected to university centers, but a few private col¬ 
lections are included because of their size and/or 

Obviously it is impossible to give detailed infor¬ 
mation about these items (e.g., chronological, de¬ 
scriptive, and artistic, according to their prove¬ 
nance in Egypt). Therefore a simple yet adequate 
description is given by category; it includes a nu¬ 
merical estimate of the items in each collection and 
a note as to their state of preservation. From such 
succinct lists, anyone needing more precise infor¬ 
mation can then go on to consult the various muse¬ 
ums and collections. However, even in such con¬ 

densed form, these lists are very informative, if only 
for showing the range and variety of Coptic work. 

The survey is arranged in alphabetical order ac¬ 
cording to (1) country; (2) cities within each coun¬ 
try; (3) museums or collections within each city, 
and (4) the categories represented in each museum 
and the state of preservation of the various items 
('V stands for “complete”; “nc,” for "not com¬ 
plete”; “fr,” for "fragments”). Some of the numbers 
shown are necessarily approximate. 

Apart from the general schema described above, 
three public collections deserve special mention, 
for in each one the principal aspects of Coptic art 
and technique are sufficiently well represented to 
allow one to perceive a coherent and complete 

First, and without equal, is the COPTIC MUSEUM in 

Only two other collections—which as a whole 
cannot be placed on the same level as the Cairo 
collections, although in some domains they are 
more representative—have the aspect of a Coptic 
museum outside of Egypt, even to the point of be¬ 
ing "ambassadors” for the Coptic Museum in Cairo, 
for their range is complete as well as abundantly 
stocked in the diverse categories of ancient Coptic 
work. These are the state museum of Berlin in the 
German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and 
the LOUVRE MUSEUM in Paris. 

La Plata 

Universidad National de la Plata 
Sculpture in stone: architectural capitals (c: 1) 
Ceramics: decorated vase (fr: 6) 


Museum of Victoria 

Ceramics: lamps (c: 2); Saint Menas phials (c: 2) 
National Gallery of Victoria 
Textiles: outer garments (c: 1), (nc: 1), (fr: 34) 
Queens College 

Textiles: outer garments (fr: 47) 


Macquarie University , Ancient History Teaching Col¬ 

Textiles: outer garments (fr: 25) 

Ceramics: lamps (c: 3); Saint Menas phials (c: 1) 
Nicholson Museum, University of Sydney 
Textiles: outer garments (fr: 35); handbags (nc: 1) 
Power House Museum 
Textiles: outer garments (fr: 2) 




Kun sth is to risches Museum 
Paintings: relief of Saint Menas (1); mummy por¬ 
traits (8) 

Osterreichisches Museum filr angewandte Kunst 
Textiles: various (1,600), most uncovered near a 
cemetery near Saqqara 

Papyrus-Sammlung der osterreichischen Nationalhih- 

Paintings: mummy portraits (2) 



Museum Mayer Van Den Dergh 
Textiles: various (fr: 3) 

Museum Vleeshuis-Oudheidkundige Musea 
Textiles: various (fr: a few) 

Ceramics: various (fr: a few) 

Ivory and hone: statuettes (c: 2) 


Textiles: various (fr: 11) 


Musses royaux d'Arl de I'Histuire du Cinquantenaire 
Section—Art chr6tien d'Orient 
Textiles: various (fr: a few) 

Ceramics: dolls (1) 

Bronzes: cross, cauldron 
D6partement egyptien 

Sculpture in stone: friezes (fr: 11); large relief (c: 

1); capitals (c: 5); statuary (c: 3); stelae (c: 5) 
Sculpture in wood: (c: 1) 

Ivory and bone: sculptures (8); games (1) 

Painting on wood: (c: 1) 

Ceramics: goblets and dishes (c: 10); Saint Menas 
phials (c: 10); lamps (c: 50), (fr: 40); various (c: 
20 ) 

Glass: vases and bottles (c: 3) 



Sculpture in wood: combs (1) 

Leather: sandals (c: 1), (fr. a few) 

Kortrijk (Courtrai) 

Museum voor Oudheidkunde en Sierkunsten 
Textiles: outer garment (fr: 1); liturgical vestment 
(fr: 1); various (fr: 9) 

Leuven (Louvain) 

Musee de I'Universite 

Ceramics: lamps (c: a few); Saint Menas phials (c: 

a few) 


Muste Curtius 
Glass: glasses (a few) 

Musee de I'Universite 
Ceramics: various (a few) 


Musee Puissant 

Textiles: various (fr: indeterminate) 


Musee Royal de Mariemont 
Sculpture in stone: stelae (a few) 

Ceramics: lamps (a few) 

Textiles: various (a few) 


Cathedral of Namur, Musee Diocesain 
Textiles: various (c: 1) 



Sculpture in wood: combs (c: 1) 

Textiles: (fr: 15) 



Museum of Fine Arts 
Bone: (fr: 56) 

Textiles: outer garments (fr: 434); bonnets and 
handbags (c: 9); hangings (fr: 4) 

Bronzes: various (c: 14) 

Leather: boots (c: 50), (nc: 6) 


Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Malcove 

Sculpture in stone: relief (c: 16); other elements 

(c: 2 ) 

Sculpture in wood: spoon (c: 1) 

Paintings: mural (fr: 20); on wood (fr. 1) 

Ivory: various (c: 4) 

Bone: various (c: 11) 

Textiles: various (45), including outer garments 
(nc: 1). (fr: 40) 

Ceramics: various (c: 5) 

Bronzes: various (c: 25) 

Metals: lead flask (c: 1); gold earring (c: 1) 

Royal Ontario Museum, Greco-Roman Department 
Sculpture in stone: decorated stelae (c: 4), (nc: 1); 
statuai 7 (nc: 1); figurative reliefs (nc: 3); vases (c: 
2 ) 

Sculpture in wood: various (c: 13), (nc: 7) 

Ivory and bone: various (c: 45), (nc: 36) 

Paintings: mural portraits (c: 2) 

Ceramics: decorated vases (c: 25), (nc: 5), (pc: 5) 
(fr: 1); cups (c: 4), (fr: 1); lamps (c: 35), (nc: 25), 



(fr: 10); Saint Menas phials (c: 3), (nc: 6), (fr: 1); 
various (c: 7), (fr: 4) 

Bronzes: crosses (c: 19), (nc: 1), (fr: 1); lamps (c: 
10), (nc: 6); lamp feet (c: 4); decorated vases (c: 
3); weights (c: 2) 

Glass: vases (c: 12), (nc: 1), (fr: 6); mirrors (nc: 1) 
Royal Ontario Museum, Textile Department 
Textiles: various (798), including outer garments 
(c: 19), (fr: 135); hangings (c: 3), (fr: 61) 



Mora vska Galerie 
Textiles: various (30) 

Vlastivedny Ustav 
Textiles: (1) 

Ccska Skalicc 

Museum Bozeny Nemcove a Textilni Muzeum 
Textiles: various (25). 

Mestske Muzeum 
Textiles: various (20) 


Mestske Muzeum 
Textiles: various (22) 


Severocesk£ Muzeum 
Textiles: various (40) 

Lomnice Nad Popelkou 
Mestske Muzeum 
Textiles: various (a few) 


Slezskt Muzeum 
Textiles: various (10) 


Zdpadoceske Muzeum 
Textiles: various (15) 


Naprstkovo Muzeum Asijskych, Africkych a Americk- 
ych Kultur 

Textiles: various (50) 

Sculpture in stone: various (a few) 

Sblrka Univerzity Karlovy, Katedra ved o Antichem 

Textiles: various (1) 
lJmeleckoprumyslove Muzeum 
Textiles: various (90) 



Museum of Decorative Art 
Textiles: outer garments (c: 1), (nc: 2), (IV: 80) 

Nutionalmuseet (National Museum of Denmark) 
Textiles: outer garments (fr: 12) 

Ceramics: lamps (c: 9); Saint Menas phials (c: 3) 



Coptic Museum 
See separate entry. 



Textiles: various (26) 


Staatliche Museen preussischer Kulturbesitz 
Sculpture in stone: statuary (c: 2); reliefs (c: about 
10 ) 

Sculpture in wood: statuary (c: 10) 

Painting on wood: caskets (c: 2) 

Textiles: various (10) 

Ceramics: busts (c: 5); various (fr: 100) 

Glass: various 

Textiles: various (numerous) 


Hessisches Landesmuseum 
Textiles: various (several) 

Ceramics: oil lamps (fr: 3); various (several) 
Bronzes: various (several) 



Textiles: bonnets (c: 7); various (550) 

Leather: sandals (several) 


Archdologischer Institut der Universit'dt 
Textiles: various (several) 


Textiles: various (several) 

Frankfurt am Main 
Museum filr Kunsthandwerke 
Textiles: various (fr: 130) 

Stadtische Galerie Liebighaus 
Sculpture in stone: architectural (fr: several) 
Textiles: various (fr: 20) 

Ceramics: Saint Menas phials and various (1,000) 
Freiburg im Breisgau 

Institut fiir christliche Archdologie und Kunst - 
geschichte der Universit'dt 


Sculpture in stone: statuary (1) 

Museum fur Vblkerkuttde 

Sculpture in wood: furniture (several pieces); 

combs (several) 

Textiles: various (several) 

Ceramics: lamps (several) 

Bronzes: various (several) 

Leather: sandals (several) 

Basketry: various 


Museum fiir Kim si imd Cewerke 
Textiles: tunics (several); various (fr: 180) 


Stadtisches Gustav-Liibcke-Museum 
Sculpture in stone: reliefs (c: 4) 

Textiles: various (60) 

Ceramics: lamps (several); amulets (25) 

Kestner Museum 

Sculpture in stone: statuary (several); decorative 
reliefs (several) 

Sculpture in wood: combs (several); castanets (sev¬ 

Ivory: various 
Textiles: various (several) 

Bronzes: various 

Inst it lit der V niversit'd t 

Sculpture in stone: statuary (several); reliefs (sev¬ 
eral); sarcophagus (I) 

Sculpture in wood: utensils, combs, and various 

Textiles: various 
Ceramics: various 
Leather: various 
Metals: various 
Glass: various 
Basketry: various 

Rome - und Pelizaeus-Museum 
Sculpture in stone: reliefs (3) 

Textiles: various (300) 


Badisches Landesmuseum 
Sculpture in stone: statuary (1); relief (1) 

Textiles: various (263) 


Deutsches Textilmuseum 
Textiles: various (numerous) 


Kunstgeschichtliches Institut der Johimnes-Guten- 
berg-V niversitat 
Textiles: various (fr: 18). 

Rbmisch-germanisches Zentral Museum 
Sculpture in stone: reliefs (several) 

Sculpture in wood: combs (several); various uten¬ 

Textiles: various 
Ceramics: lamps (several) 

Schloss Reydt Museum 
Textiles: various (25) 


Staatliche Sammlung dgyplische Kunst 
Sculpture in stone: statuary (several); reliefs (sev¬ 

Ivory: various 
Textiles: various 


Deutsches Ledermuseum 
Leather: shoes (several) 


Landesmuseum fiir Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte 
Sculpture in wood: mask (1) 

Textiles: various (fr: 3) 

Ikoften Museum 

Sculpture in stone: architectural reliefs, niches, 
capital (several) 

Ceramics: various 
Textiles: various 
Glass: various 

Trier Museum 

Textiles: displayed and in storage (200), including 
pillows; blankets; tapestries; tunics for adults and 
children, with paintings, drawings, and sketches 
of various mythological, biblical, and other sub¬ 
jects on some of the tunics, on some medallions, 
and on other objects; and, among the rarities, a 
stocking, a satchel, and a bonnet 
Ceramics: Greek vases (mostly from Egypt in late 
antiquity); terra-cottas (some) 

Sculpture in stone: Coptic limestone reliefs 
(some); friezes (some) 

Paintings: portraits (some) 

Jewelry: (some) 

Other items: mummy masks, candlesticks, incense 
stands, urns 

Most of the objects are from the early and middle 
Coptic periods; few are from the late period. 



Agyptische Sammluttg der Vniversit'at (Egyptian Col¬ 
lection of the University) 

Sculpture in stone: stelae (several) 


Museum der Stadt Ulm (Ulmer Museum) 

Textiles: various (50) 


Sammlung nassauischer Altertiimer 
Textiles: various (87); tunic (I) 


Wagner Museum der Universitdt 
Textiles: various (57) 



Finnish National Museum 
Textiles: various (160) 



Musee dc Picardie 
Textiles: outer garments (fr: 2) 

Musde Pined 

Textiles: bands (fr; 23)o 
Ceramics: vases (c: 2) 

Metals: cruciform ornament of a lamp (fr: 1) 


Musee d’Art et d'Archeologie 

Sculpture in wood: frieze (c: 1); figurative reliefs 
(nc: 1); decorative reliefs (c: 2); various (c: 2), 
(fr: 1) 

Ivory and bone: statuary (c: 1) 

Paintings: murals (fr: I); portraits (c: 2) 

Textiles: shawls (fr: 4) 

Ceramics: various (c: 1) 

Plasters: architectural elements (fr: 1) 


Musee Calvet 

Textiles: outer garments (fr: 7) 


Musee des Beaux Arts et d'Archeologie 
Sculpture in stone: capital (c: 1); base of decorated 
vases (c: 1) 

Textiles: undergarments (fr: 40) 

Ceramics: decorated vase (c: 1); undecorated am¬ 
phora (c: 1); lamps (c: 3), (nc: 2); Saint Menas 
phial (c: I) 

Musee d'Aquitaine 

Textiles: tunics (c: 2), (nc: 10), (fr: 750) 

Musee des Beaux Arts et d'Archeologie 
Sculpture in wood: various (fr: 6) 

Textiles: outer garments (fr: 13) 

Ceramics: lamps (c: 3) 

Leather: pair of sandals (c: 1) 


Musee Anciett Palais Episcopal 
Textiles: outer garments (fr: 40) 

Leather: shoes (c: 1); pairs of boots (c: 1) 


Musee des Beaux Arts et de la Den telle 
Textiles: outer garments (fr: 1) 

Musee Dcnon 

Ceramics: amphora (c: 1), (fr: several) 


Musee des Beaux Arts et d'Histoire Naturelle 
Ceramics: Saint Menas phials (c: 4) 

Musee Bertrand 
Textiles: outer garments (fr: 4) 


Museum d'Histoire Naturelle 
Textiles: outer garments (fr: 90) 


Musee Vivenel, l'Hotel de Sougeons 
Textiles: tunics (nc: 1), (fr: several), shawls (c: 1); 

pillow covers (fr: several) 


Palais des Etats de Bourgogne 

Sculpture in wood: weaving tools (c: 19); dolls (c: 

2 ) 

Textiles: outer garments (fr: 150) 

Ceramics: lamps (c: 22); vases (c: 28); goblets (fr: 

several); dishes (c: 1) 

Glass: bottles (c: 4), (fr: several) 


Musee de Grenoble 

Textiles: outer garments (fr: 21); bonnets and bags 
(c: 1), (fr: 4); hangings (fr: 12) 


Musee Ancien, I'Hotel de la Sdnatorerie 
Textiles: outer garments (fr: 155) 

La Roche-sur-Yon 
Musee Municipal 

Ceramics: vases (c: 3); goblets (c: 4) 



Musee du Vieux Chateau 
Ceramics: vases (c: 2) 


Universite de Lille III, U.E.R. d'Histoire de I'Art el 

Ceramics: decorated potsherds (several) 

Metals: silver cross (1) 


Musbe Municipal 

Sculpture in wood: double comb (c: 1); rectangu¬ 
lar block ornamented with a cross (c: 1) 
Textiles: outer garments (fr: 14) 

Ceramics: Saint Menas phials (c: 2); decorated 
vases (c. 2) 

Bronzes: lamps (c: 9); human head (c: 1); animals 
(c: several); bracelets (c: 2); pyx (c: 1); small bell 
(c: 1); sheep bell (c: 1); head of gazelle (c: 2); 
ornamented wand (c: 1) 

Musee de I'Hotel de Ville 
Textiles: outer garments (fr: 18) 


Musee Municipal, Chateau 
Textiles: outer garments (fr: 17) 


Musee des Beaux Arts 

Sculpture in stone: friezes (fr: 5); capitals (nc: 1); 
broken pediments (fr: 1); figurative reliefs (c: 2); 
decorative reliefs (c: 5); sculpted table holding 
jars (c: 1) 

Textiles: outer garments (fr: 200) 

Ceramics: lamps (c: 6), (nc: 3); Saint Menas phials 
(c: 7), (nc: 4) 

Bronzes: braziers (nc: 1); lamps (c: 2); lamp base 
(nc: 2); ornamental finely (nc: 1) 

Glass: magic intaglios (c: 2) 

Musee Historique des Tissus 

Textiles: outer garments (c: 4), (nc: 7), (fr: 850); (nc: 30); hangings (fr: 5. often of im¬ 
portance); pillow covers (fr: 6) 


Musee d'Archeologie, Chateau Borcly 
Textiles: outer garments (fr: 76) 

Ceramics: lamps (c: 5); Saint Menas phials (c: 11), 
(nc: 10) 

Bronzes: dancer with crotalum (c: 1) 

Leather: sandals (c: 1), (nc: 1) 

Musee du Chateau 
Bronzes: frying pan (c: 1) 


Musee Departemental de la Loire Atlantique 
Sculpture in wood: comb (c: 1); weaving imple¬ 
ments (c: several) 

Textiles: outer garments (fr: 39) 

Ceramics: lamps (c: 16); Saint Menas phials (c: 1) 

Musee des Beaux Arts 

Decorated fabrics: outer garments (fr: 2); hangings 
(fr: 26) 

Ceramics: vases, with or without decoration (c: 8), 
(nc: 2), (fr: 2); lamps (fr: 1); Saint Menas phials 
(c: 1), (nc: 2); various stamps, corks, etc. (c: 2), 
(pc: 2). (fr: 7) 


Administration Generate du Mohilier National et des 
Manufactures Nationalcs dcs Gobelins et de Beau¬ 

Textiles: outer garments (fr: 470); liturgical gar¬ 
ments (c: 30) 

Bibliotheque Nationale 

Painting: illuminated manuscript (nc: 1), an evan- 
geliary containing pictures of three of the four 
Evangelists and seventy-four scenes; some leaves 
with figurative subjects (fr) 

Bibliotheque Nationale, Musee des Medailles et An¬ 

Painting on wood: various (c: 2) 

Institut Catholique de Paris 
Painting: illuminated manuscript (c: 1) 

Louvre Museutn 
See separate entry. 

Musee Auguste Rodin 

Textiles: outer garments (fr: 74); underclothes (fr: 
1); shawls (fr: 21); hangings (fr: 18); pillow cov¬ 
ers (fr: 12) 

Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Pavilion de Marsan 
Textiles: outer garments (c: 1), (nc: 41), (fr: 47); 

liturgical vestments (fr: 38); hangings (fr: 20) 
Musee de VHomme 

Textiles: 500 items, including outer garments (fr: 
63); shawls (fr: 9); bonnets and bags (fr: 7); hang¬ 
ings (fr: 15); cushions and pillow covers (fr: 2) 
Musee des Thermes et de I'Hotel de Cluny 
Sculpture in wood: combs (fr: 2) 

Ivory and bone: statuary amulet (nc: 1); figurative 
reliefs on combs (fr: 2); decorative reliefs (fr: 1) 
Textiles: tunic (nc: 1), (fr: 2); hair-nets (fr: 5); 

hangings (fr: 180) 

Leather: sandals (c: 1) (nc: 5) 

Musee du Perigord 



Textiles: outer garments (c: 1 tunic), (fr: 155); un¬ 
dershirt (c: 1) 


Musee des Beaux Arts 
Textiles: outer garments (fr: 67) 


Muske Joseph Dechelette 

Textiles: outer garments (fr: 25); undergarments 
(nc: 2); liturgical vestments (fr: 1); pillow covers 
(nc: 1), (fr: 2) 


Musee de la Chaussure et d'Ethnographic Regionale 
Leather: sandals (c: 4); boots (c: 1); shoes (c: 9) 

Musee Departemental des Antiquites de la Seine 

Sculpture in wood: weaver's comb (c: 1) 

Textiles: outer garments (nc: 1), (fr: 68); hangings 
(fr: 3) 

Bronzes: libation goblets decorated with a cross (c: 
1); insignia of a horseman's lance (c: 1) 

Saint-Just, Saint-Rambert-sur-Loire 
Muske Municipal, le Prieure 
Sculpture in wood: statuette (c: 1) 

Textiles: various (fr: 7) 


Musees Georges Labit 
Textiles: outer garments (fr: 19) 

Muske Greuze 

Textiles: outer garments (fr: 73) 


Musee des Beaux Arts et d'Archeologic 
Textiles: vairous (fr: 77) 


Musee Municipal , Cloitre de la Trinitc 
Textiles: outer garments (fr: 15) 


Musee d'Art Chretien 
Textiles: outer garments (fir. 2) 



East Kirklees-Bagshaw Museum 
Textiles: various (fr: 34); trimmings (many); tapes¬ 
try trimmings (many) 

Leather: sandals (nc: 4) 


Ulster Museum 

Sculpture in stone: stela (nc: 1) 

Ivory and bone: bone cross (c: 1) 

Textiles: outer garments (fr: 6) 

Bronzes: figurine (c: 1) 


City of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery 
Sculpture in stone: window sill (fr: 1); statuary (c: 
1); stela (nc: 1); other elements, vases (c: 1), (nc: 
1 ) 

Sculpture in wood: various elements (c: 2), (nc: 5) 
Ivory and bone: various elements (c: 4) 

Textiles: various (nc: 7), (fr: 26) 

Ceramics: decorated vases (c: 1), (nc: 1), (fr: 1); 
Saint Menas phials (c: 19); plain vessels (c: 27); 
various (nc: 4) 

Glass: vases (c: 1) 

Basketry: various (c: 6) 


Lancashire Bolton Museum and Art Gallery• 
Sculpture in stone: capitals (fr: 2); broken pedi¬ 
ments (fr: 2); decorated stelae (c: 2); figurative 
statuary (c: 2) 

Sculpture in wood: various (c: 7) 

Ivory and bone: various (c: 7) 

Textiles: outer garments (c: 1), (nc: 2); bonnets (c: 
16); shawls (c: I); undergarments (c: 4), (nc: 8); 
tunics, hangings (fr: 700) 

Ceramics: decorated vases (c: 2), (fr: 2); cups (c: 

5); lamps (c: 4); various (c: 2) 

Bronzes: crosses (c: 3); ornaments (c: 38) 

Leather: sandals (c: 2); boots (c: 3), (fr: 10) 
Metals: iron (c: 10), (fr: 2) 

Glass: vases (fr: 31) 


Art Gallery and Museums of the Royal Pavilion 
Textiles: piece (fr: 1) 


City of Bristol Museum and Art Gallery 
Sculpture in stone: stelae (c: 2) 

Sculpture in wood: antelope heads (nc: 2); other 
elements (c: 1); figurative friezes (nc: 1) 
Paintings: illuminations (c: 1) 

Textiles: outer garments (nc: 7); bonnets and hand¬ 
bags (c: 1); tapestries (fr: 22); undergarments 
(nc: 2) 

Bronzes: cross (nc: 1); inscribed cross (c: 1); cen¬ 
ser (c: 1) 

Leather: cushions (nc: 1?); piece of cut leather (fr: 

1 ) 

Metals: iron (c: 3), (nc: 2) 

Filzwilliam Museum 

Sculpture in stone: friezes (c: 1), (nc: 1); capitals 



(c: 2), (nc: 1); decorated stelae (c: 1); decorated 
reliefs (c: 1) 

Sculpture in wood: elements (c: 8). (nc: 3), (fr: 1) 
Ivory and bone: statuary (c: 1), (nc: 1); figurative 
reliefs (c: 1), (nc: 2), (fr: 3); decorative reliefs (c: 

1) , (nc: 1), (fr: 10); other elements (c: 8), (nc: 3), 

(fr: 1) 

Textiles: outer garments (c: 4), (nc: 1), (fr: 172); 

bonnets and handbags (c: 1) 

Ceramics: decorated vases (c: 15), (nc: 3), (fr: 23); 
lamps (fr: 2). Saint Menas phials (c: 2), (nc: 8); 
various (c: 7), (nc: 32), (fr: 31) 

Bronzes: crosses (c: 6); lamps (c: 2); plain vases (c: 

2) ; ornaments (c: 8) 

Leather: sandals (c: 2); boots (nc: 1) 

Metals: silver (c: 3); various (c: I) 

Glass: vases (c: 2) 

Exceptional items: ivory diptych showing the four 
Evangelists, sixth century; capitals from the ba¬ 
silica at Hawwara 
Cardiff National Museum of Wales 
See Swansea, below. 

Chelmsford, Essex-C helms ford, and Essex Museum 
See London, Victoria and Albert Museum. 


Colchester and Essex Museum 
Ceramics: Saint Menas phials (c: 1) 


Dundee Museums and Art Galleries 
Sculpture in wood: kohl stick and lid (c: 2), (nc: 1) 
Ivory and bone: ivory bracelet (fr: 2); bone pin (c: 
2 ) 

Metals: copper ring (c: 1); copper bracelet (c: 1); 

bronze crosses (c: 2) 

Textiles: decorated (c: 24) 

Glass: vases (fr: 6); beads (c: 6) 

Leather; sandal (c: 1) 


Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle 
Textiles: tapestries (fr: 2) 


Royal Museum of Scotland 

Sculpture in stone: stelae (c: 6), (fr: I); statuary (c: 


Ivory and bone: figurative reliefs (fr: 2); decorative 
reliefs (fr: 2) 

Textiles: outer garments (c: 4), (fr: 120); bonnets 
(c: 2) 

Bronzes: crosses (c: 1); bronze censers (c: 1) 
Metals: gold (nc: 1) 


Glasgow Museums and Art Galleries, Burrell Collec¬ 

Textiles: tapestry (fr: 23) 

Hunterian Museum 

Textiles: various (fr: 3), oslraca (c: 24) 


McClean Museum and Art Gallery 
Textiles: various (few) 


Bankfield Museum, Calderdale Museums Service 
Textiles: various (fr: 86) 


City Museum and Art Gallery 
Bronzes: lamps (c: 2) 


Ipswich Museum 

Ceramics: Saint Menas phial (c: 1) 

Painting: stucco painted with a crude figure of a 
saint (c: 1) 

Kendal-Cumbria-Ahbot Art Gallery 
Textiles: decorated fabrics (fr: several) 


Jewry Lane Museum 

Textiles: sock (c: 2); infant's shirt (c: 2), (fr: 1); 
shim sleeve (c: 1); woolen ball (c: 1); decorated 
fabrics (fr: 8) 

Liverpool Museum 

Sculpture in stone: friezes (nc: 2); decorated stelae 
(c: 2), (nc: 1) 

Sculpture in wood: figurative reliefs (c: 2), (nc: 1); 
decorative reliefs (c: 5), (nc: 50); other elements 
(c: 16). (nc: 3), (fr: 5) 

Ivory and bone: statuary (c: 3); figurative reliefs (c: 
1); decorative reliefs (c: 10); other elements (c: 
6), (nc: 3) 

Textiles: garments (fr: 300) 

Ceramics: decorated vases (c: 1); cups (c: 2); lamps 
(c: 4); Saint Menas phials (c: 100); various (c: 6), 
(nc: 3) 

Bronzes: crosses (c: 5); braziers (c: 1); lamps (c: 1); 

plain vase (c: 1); ornaments (c: 3) 

Leather: codex cover (c: 1) 

Glass: vase (c: 1) 


British Museum, Department of Egyptian Antiquities 
Sculpture in stone: friezes (nc: 180); stone capitals 
(c: 21); broken pediments (c: 4); decorated stelae 
(c: 195); statuary (c: 4); figurative reliefs (c: 3), 
(nc: 10); decorative reliefs (nc: 5) 



Sculpture in wood; friezes (nc: 10); other elements 
(c: 35), (nc: 10), (fr: 5) 

Ivory and bone: statuary (c: 1), (nc: 12). (fr: 5); 
figurative reliefs (c: 4), (nc: 8), (fr 3); decorative 
reliefs (c: 7), (nc: 6), (fr: 7); other elements (c: 
100), (nc: 50), (fr: 50) 

Painting: murals (nc: 1) 

Textiles: outer garments (c: 2), (nc: 3), (fr: 165); 
bonnets and handbags (c: 1), (fr: 1); liturgical 
vestments (nc: 1); tapestries (c: I), (nc: 2), (fr: 2) 
Ceramics: decorated vases (c: 4), (nc: 1). (fr: 33); 
lamps (c: 129); Saint Menas phials (c: 7), (nc: 8); 
various (c: 23), (nc: 2) 

Bronzes: crosses (c: 4); lamps (c: 4); lamp feet (nc: 
3); ornaments (c: 15) 

Leather: sandals (fr: 1); codex covers (nc: 1), (fr: 2) 
Metals: gold (c: 1); silver (c: 2); iron (fr: 5) 

Glass: vases (c: 3); mirrors (nc: 3) 

British Museum, Department of Medieval and Later 

Sculpture in stone: (fr: 2); bread stamps (c: 3); 

crosses (c: 3); seals (c: 7) 

Sculpture in wood: door panels (c: 10); cross (c: 
2); bread stamps (c: 2); pectoral (c: 1); comb (c: 
1); pin (c: 2) 

Textiles: various (fr: 29) 

Ivory and bone: figures (c: 15); bone cruciform 
pendants (c: 12) 

Ceramics: lamps (c: 42); Saint Menas phials (c: 12); 
pilgrim medallion (c: 1); bread stamps (c: 4); 
dishes (c: 4), (fr: 4); doll (c: 1) 

Metals: gold rings (c: 2); breast chain (c: 1); ear¬ 
rings (c: 2); iron rings (?); bracelets (c: 2) 
Bronzes: rings (c: 7); weights (c: 55); lamps (c: 10); 
lamp fittings (c: I); peacock (c: 1); goose (c: 1); 
patera (c: 1); dish (c: 1); ewer (c: 1); bucket (c: 
1); amphora (c: 1) pedestal (c: 1); medallion (c: 
1); crosses (c: 16); brooches (c: 3); buckle (c: 1); 
earrings (c: 12); bracelets (c: 3); pins (c: 1); 
crosses (c: 2) 

Glass: coin weights (c: 2); pendants (c: 2); bottle 
seals (c: 2) 

From Wadi Sarjah: stucco mural painting (1); 650 
complete and incomplete pottery vessels and 
lamps; approximately 80 assorted textile, wood, 
bone, iron, bronze, lead objects; approximately 
410 glass fragments 
Victoria and Albert Museum 

Textiles: tapestries (fr: 64); tunic (fr: 2); gilt leather 
strap (fr: 1); basket (fr: I). 

To be added from Chelmsford, Essex-Chelmsford, 
and Essex Museum: various elements: (fr: 20) 

To be added from London-South Kensington Muse¬ 

um (Textile Machinery Collection): the whole 
Coptic collection on long-term loan 


Maidstone Museum and Art Galleryt 
Textiles: (fn 3) 


Newbury District Museum, Berkshire 
Ceramics: decorated vases (fr: 3); cups (fr: 4); Saint 
Menas phials (c: 1), (nc: 1), (fr: 5); various ob¬ 
jects, shards (fr: 12) 

Central Museum 

Leather: shoes (nc: 2); sandals (nc: 3) 

Castle Museum 

Textiles: outer garments (fr: 13); tapestries (fr: 6) 

City of Nottingham Arts Department, Museum of Cos¬ 
tume and Textiles 

Textiles: outer garments (fr: 38) 


Ashmolean Museum 

Sculpture in stone: altar slab (c: 1); capital (c: 1); 

bust (c: 1); stelae (c: 4); cross (c: 1) 

Sculpture in wood: cross (c: 1); altar board (c: 1); 

combs (c: 3), (nc: 2), (fr: 1); triptych (nc: 1) 
Leather: headband (c: 1); decorated piece (fr: 1); 

shoes (c: 5), (nc: 2), (fr: 1); sandals (nc: 1), (fr: 1) 
Ivory and bone: comb (c: 1); spindle whorls (c: 6), 
(nc: 1) 

Ceramics: lamp (c: 7), (nc: 2); pots (c: 3), (nc: 6), 
(fr: 1 with chi-rho symbol on base); Saint Menas 
phials (c: 14), (nc: 39), (fr: 2); incense burner or 
lamp stand (nc: 1); eucharistic loaves (c: 5) 
Glass: flasks (c: 19), (nc: 1), (fr: 3); vases (fr: 1); 
bowls (fr: 6); jars (c: 8) 

Bronzes: tripod stand (c: 1); bucket (c: 1), vase (c: 
1); cruet and stand (nc: 1); lamp (c: 1), (nc: 2); 
bowl with spout (nc: 1); pyx (fr: 1); censer and 
thurible (fr: 1); statuette of dove (?) (c: 1); cross 
(c: 1) 

Metals: iron knife blade (c: 1); iron cross (nc: 1); 
silver processional cross (c: 2); silver cross and 
sacramental spoon with Arabic inscription (c: 1); 
silver fan (c: 1); silver-gilt bridal gown (c: 1); 
steel knife or cleaver blade engraved with doves 
and crosses (c: 1) 

Textiles: decorated fabrics (fr: 444) 

Reed: whistle (nc: 1) 

Pitt Rivers Museum and Department of ethnology 
and Prehistory 


Sculpture in wood: doll (c: 3); combs (c: 2); keys 

(c: 2 ) 

Ivory and bone: statuary (c: 1) 

Paintings: panels (c: 2); ornamented ostrich egg 
Bronzes: lamp (c: 1); cross (c: 1); rings (c: 4); 

bracelets (c: 2); lock (c: 1); keys (c: 2) bolts (c: 2) 
Metals: brass bracelets (e: 2); bronze and iron 
rings (c: 4); iron padlock (c: 1); keys (c: 10) 
Reed: pipes (c: 1), (nc: 1) 

Note also ostrich egg, ornamented with incised 
pictures of public buildings, probably in Cairo, 
signed by the artist, Hasan Fahmi, length, 6 in., 
and max. width, c. 4.3 in.; four bronze and iron 
finger rings (?); bronze bolt from lock; two 
wooden pin-lock keys; iron padlock. 


Ure Museum of Creek Archaeology, Reading Univer¬ 

Textiles: decorated fabrics (fr: 18). 


Rochdale Museum, Lancashire 
Textiles: outer garments (c: 1), (fr: 25); shawls (fr: 


Salford Museums and Art Galleries 
Textiles: tapestries (fr: 10) 


Swansea University College, Wellcome Collection 
Sculpture in stone: frieze (c: 1); decorated stelae 
(c: 1), (nc: 1), (fr: 3) 

Ivory and bone: weaver's implements (c: 3) 
Textiles: outer garments (nc: 1), (fr: 1); bonnets 
(nc: 3). (fr: 1) 

Ceramics: Saint Menas phials (c: 1); stamps (c: 1) 
Bronzes: ornaments (c: 3) 


Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, Wiltshire 
Ceramics: lamp (c: 1) 

Torquay, Devon 
Torquay Museum 
Textiles: tapestries (fr: 2) 

Ceramics: decorated flask (nc: 1); figurine (c: 1) 



Benaki Museum 

Sculpture in stone: capitals (c: 2); figurative reliefs 
(c: 1); decorative reliefs (c: 1); various (c: 4), (nc: 

Sculpture in wood: statuary (c: 7), (fr: 22); figura¬ 

tive reliefs (c: 2); decorative reliefs (c: 2); various 
(c: 6), (nc: 40) 

Ivories and bone: figurative reliefs (nc: 6); decora¬ 
tive reliefs (c: 16), (nc: 7); various (c: 4), (nc: 8) 
Paintings: portraits on cloth (c: 2) 

Textiles: garments (c: 4), (nc: 6), (fr: 337); bonnets 
and bags (nc: 3); hangings (nc: 3), (fr: 46); pillow 
covers (fr: 15) 

Ceramics: decorated vases (c: 29), (fr: 22); lamps 
(nc: 3); Saint Menas phials (c: 16), (nc: 11); vari¬ 
ous (c: 17) 

Bronzes: crosses (c: 7), (nc: 1); inscribed crosses 
(c: 2); censers (c: 12), (fr: 1); braziers (c: 1); 
candelabra (c: 3), (nc: 1), (fr: 5); lamps (c: 10), 
(nc: 3), (fr: 9); lamp bases (c: 5), (nc: 1); plain 
vases (c: 1), (fr: 1); ewers (c: 3); ornamental 
finely (c: 12), (nc: 1) 

Leather: sandals (c: 2) 

Metals: silver (c: 17); iron (c: 8) 



Szipmuveszeti Muzeum (Hungarian Museum of Tine 

Sculpture in stone: capitals (c: 2); relief (fr: 1) 
Bone: figurines (c: 20), (fr: 5); weaving tools (c: 
16); tools (c: 15); figurative reliefs (fr: 2); various 
(c: 2) 

Textiles: outer garments (fr: 60) 

Ceramics: decorated vases (c: 5), (fr: 1); lamps (c: 
25); Saint Menas phials (c: 15), (fr: 4); vases (c: 
8), (fr: 7); figurines (c: 18), (fr: 80); stamps (c: 15) 
Bronzes: candelabra (fr: 2); lamps (fr: 2); ornamen¬ 
tal finely (c: 5); jewelry (c: 5) 

Glass: stamps (c: 1) 

Gems: soapstone steatite figurines (c: 1); jewelry 
(C: 3) 

/pannuveszeti Muzeum (Museum of Decorative Arts) 
Textiles: outer garments (fr: 173) 

Dere Muzeum 

Textiles: outer garments (fr: 5) 

/stall Museum 

Textiles: outer garments (fr: 7); tapestries (c: 1), 
(nc: 5), (fr: 30) 



Museo Sacro della Biblioteca Apostolica del Vati- 
cano (Private Collection) 


Textiles: various pieces from Akhmlm-Panopolis, 
dating from fourth-fifteenth centuries (19), mul¬ 
ticolored silks (collection) from the treasure of 
the Santa Sanctorum, which combine Sassanian, 
Christian Syrian, and Byzantine elements 
Vatican Museums (Private Collection) 

Textiles: various pieces of Antinoopolitan prove¬ 
nance from third to ninth centuries, including 
one third-century painted mummy wrapping (99) 



Kanebo, Ltd. Collection of Coptic Textiles 
Decorated fabrics: large altar pieces; clothing; 
hangings; curtains; covers; pillows; belts; bags; 
other objects (more than 5,000 items, many of 
which are fragments) 



Allard Pierson Museum 

Sculpture in stone: friezes (fr: 13); capitals (c: 3), 
(nc: 1), (fr: 1); decorated stelae (c: 8), (nc: 4); 
statuary (c: 2), (nc: 4), (fr: 2) 

Sculpture in wood: friezes (fr: 1); panels (c: 1); 
reliefs (c: 4) 

Ivory and bone: various (c: 2), (nc: 1) 

Textiles: outer garments (c: 1), (nc: 5), (fr: 75); 
liturgical vestments (nc: 11), (fr: 12); bonnets 
and bags (fr: 1) 

Ceramics: decorated vases (c: 2); goblets (nc: 1); 
lamps (c: 2); Saint Menas phials (c: 2), (nc: 7); 
various (c: 7), (nc: 1), (fr: 1) 

Bronzes: crosses (c: 1), (nc: 1); cauldron (c: 1); 
lamps (c: 1); decorated vases (c: 4); ornaments 
(c: 10) 

Leather: sandals (c: 3), (nc: 1); boots (c: 1); belts 
(nc: 1), (fr: 1) 

Metals: iron (c: 1) 

Glass: mirror (c: 1) 


Rijsksmuseum van Oudheden 
Sculpture in stone: friezes (nc: 7); decorated stelae 
(c: 6); figurative reliefs (nc: 3) 

Sculpture in wood: various (nc: 13) 

Ivory and bone: statuary (nc: 27); figurative reliefs 
(nc: 23); decorative reliefs (nc: 9); various (nc: 


Painting: manuscript illuminations (c: about 25) 
Textiles: tapestries (nc: 1); pillow covers (nc: 8); 
various (fr: about 110) 

Ceramics: decorated vases (c: 15); lamps (c: 38); 
Saint Menas phials (c: 15); various (c: 6) 

Bronzes: crosses (c: 4); ornaments (c: 22) 

Leather: sandals (nc: 5); codex covers (c: 1) 
Metals: iron bracelet and buckles (c: 8) 



Jagellonian University, Department of Mediterranean 

Ceramics: decorated vases (c: 1); plates (fr: 1) 
Museum of Archaeology 
Sculpture in stone: stelae (c: several) 

Textiles: outer garments (fr: several) 

Ceramics: Saint Menas phials (c: several) 

National Museum 

Textiles: outer garments (fr: 70); figurines (c: sev¬ 

National Museum, Czartoryski Collection 
Sculpture in stone: panels (c: 1); stelae (c: 1), (nc: 
1 ) 

Textiles: outer garments (fr: 9); pillow covers (c: 2) 
Ceramics: goblet (c: 1) 


National Museum 

Sculpture in stone: figurative reliefs (fr: 1); decora¬ 
tive reliefs (fr: 7); incised stamps (c: 4) 

Textiles: outer garments (nc: 1), (fr: 52); bonnets 
and bags (c: 1); liturgical vestments (fr: 1?) 
Ceramics: decorated vases (c: 5), (nc: 13), (fr: 308); 
Saint Menas phials (c: 5); figurines (nc: 3), (fr: 



Museu Nacional de Arte Amiga 
Textiles: outer garments (fr: 26) 



Gewerbemuseum, Museum fur Gestaltung 
Textiles: outer garments (c: 2), (nc: 1), (fr: 54); 

bonnets and bags (c: 1); various (fr: 74) 

Museum fur Volkerkunde 
Ivory and bone: various (c: 20) 

Textiles: various (fr: 1,200) 


Bcmischcs historisches Museum 
Sculpture in wood: decorated reliefs, diptych (c: 

1); beads (c: 17), (fr: 2) 

Paintings: on linen (nc: 2) 

Textiles: various (fr: 60) 

Ceramics: statuette (c: 1) 

Metals: brass eucharistic chalice (c: 1); procession¬ 
al crosses (c: 5) 


Books: various (c: 2) 


Musee d'Art et d'Histoire 

Sculpture in stone: friezes (fr: I); capitals (c: 1); 
statuary (nc: 1); figurative reliefs (c: 1), (fr: 1); 
various (c: 5), (nc: 1), (fr: 1) 

Sculpture in wood: combs (fr: 3); stamps (nc: 1), 
button (c: 1) 

Ivory and bone: crosses (c: 2); spoons (c: 1), (nc: 

1) ; combs (fr: 1); straight pins (c: 2), (nc: 2), (fr: 

2) ; bracelets (c: 2), (nc: I); buttons (c: 8), (nc: 4); 
various (c: 1), (nc: 6), (fr: 2) 

Textiles: tunics (nc: 2), (fr: 4); bonnets and bags 
(fr: 4); scarves (fr: 8); cloak (nc: I): hangings (nc: 
2); pillow covers (nc: 2); various (fr: 430) 
Ceramics: lamps (c: 9), (nc: 1); phials (c: I), (nc: 
1); Saint Menas phials (nc: 3); various (c: 4), (nc: 

8). (fr: I) 

Bronzes: crosses (c: 8), (nc: 1); bells (nc: 2), (fr: I); 
ornamental finery (c: 43), (nc: 7), (fr: 9); spoons, 
spatulas, styli (c: 9), (nc: 2), (fr: I); disks (c: 2) 
Metals: gold (c: 3), (nc: 4), (fr: I); silver (c: 1), (nc: 

1), (fr: 1); iron (c: 4), (nc: 2), (fr: 2) 

Glass: ornamental finery (c: 16), (pc: 1) 


A rch'dolavishes Inst it ut der Universit'd t Zurich 
Sculpture in stone: figurative reliefs (c: 3) 

Textiles: outer garments (fr: 3); hangings (fr: 1) 
Ceramics: Saint Menas phials (nc: 10); various (fr: 
10 ) 

Vdlkerkundemuseum dcr Universitdt Zurich 
Textiles: outer garments (c: 1); various (nc: 11) 



Archaeological Museums of Istanbul 
Textiles: tapestries (c: 30) 

Ceramics: various (fr: 5) 



Museum of Fine Arts 
Textiles: various 

Museum of Fine Arts 
Textiles: various 

Museum of Occidental and Oriental Art 
Textiles: various (fr: 30) 

Hermitage Museum 

Sculpture in stone: capitals (c: I); stelae (fr: 40) 

Sculpture in wood: figurative reliefs (c: 6); decora¬ 
tive reliefs (c; 2) 

Ivory: figurative reliefs, crosses (fr: 25); decorative 
reliefs (fr: 4) 

Paintings: portraits (c: 1), (IV: 1) 

Textiles: outer garments (c: more than 100); bon¬ 
nets (c: 12); hangings, veils (c: 50) 

Ceramics: decorated vases (fr: more than 100) 
Leather: pair of sandals (c: 1); belts (c: 1); cushions 
(c: 1) 

Metals: various (fr: 450) 

Glass: vases (fr: more than 30) 


Museum of Ethnography 
Textiles: various (fr: 16) 


National University 
Textiles: various (fr: 4) 


Museum of Fine Arts 
Textiles: various (fr: 300) 


Museum of Fine Arts 
Textiles: various 

Museum of Georgian Arts 
Textiles: various (fr: 10) 


Amherst, Massachusetts 
Mead Art Museum, Amherst College 
Sculpture: (1) 

Textiles: various (11) 

Ann Arbor, Michigan 

Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, University of Michi- 

Sculpture in stone: reliefs (198); other (5). 
Sculpture in wood: various (30) 

Bone: various (400-500) 

Ceramics: painted pottery (5); stamp seals (20) 
Glass: (1) 

Baltimore, Maryland 
Baltimore Museum of Art 
Textiles: various (few) 

Walters Art Gallery 

Sculpture: reliefs (many); other (many) 

Metals: jewelry (few) 

Mosaic: (1) 

Minor arts: various (12) 

Birmingham, Alabama 
Birmingham Museum of Art 



Bone: statuary (1) 

Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 
Cranbrook Academy of Ar: Museum 
Textiles: various (35) 

Bloomington, Indiana 
Indiana University Art Museum 
Sculpture in stone: sepulchral marble stela with 
male and female orants (1) 

Sculpture in wood: carved panel (1) 

Textiles: various (many) 

Brooklyn, New York 
Brooklyn Museum 
Sculpture: various (10) 

Reliefs: various (220) 

Textiles: various (220) 

Minor arts: various (50) 

Buffalo, New York 
Albright-Knox Art Gallery 
Sculpture in stone: relief of a Nereid (1) 

Cambridge, Massachusetts 
Fogg Art Museum 

Sculpture in stone: architectural limestone frag¬ 
ments, engaged arches, pilaster capitals, orna¬ 
mental friezes and bands, lintels, colonnettes 
(214); lion head of fifth-seventh centuries (1) 
Textiles: linen, wool, tapestry, tunic appliques, 
fragments of large hangings, borders, loop-pile 
coverlet, silk twill, resist-dye from filth-ninth 
centuries (106) 

Metal: brass lamp (1); bronze lamp (2); polycan¬ 
dela (1); small lidded toilet box (1); open-work 
censer dome from sixth-tenth century (I) 

Bone: stylized dolls in bone; fragments of liturgical 
manuscripts on paper 

Chapel Hill, North Carolina 
Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina 
Textiles: fragments (5) 

Ceramics: terra-cotta lamp (1) 

Chicago, Illinois 

Art Institute of Chicago , Department of Textiles 
Textiles: various (many) 

Field Museum of Natural History 
Textiles: various (700-800) 

Metals: bronze containers; jewelry 
Minor ails: various (100) 

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago 
Sculpture: (few) 

Reliefs: (few) 

Minor arts: (many) 

Cincinnati, Ohio 

Cincinnati Art Museum 

Sculpture in stone: capitals (4); pediment (1) 
Textiles: (13) 

Minor arts: (105) 

Claremont, California 

Institute for Antiquity and Christianity, Claremont 
Graduate School 
Minor arts: (few) 

Cleveland. Ohio 
Cleveland Museum of Art 
Textiles: (many) 

Columbia, Missouri 

Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Mis¬ 
souri —Columbia 
Sculpture: (1) 

Reliefs: (2) 

Textiles: (35) 

Minor ails: (6) 

Coral Gables, Florida 
Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami 
Textiles: (10) 

Dayton, Ohio 
Dayton Art Institute 
Textiles: (fr: 9) 

Denver, Colorado 
Denver Art Museum 

Sculpture in stone: polychromed limestone figure 
(1); sarcophagus relief of Pan with three goats 

0 ) 

Detroit, Michigan 
Detroit Institute of Arts 
Textiles: (40) 

Durham, North Carolina 
Duke University Museum of Art 
Paintings on wood: (fr: 4); wine jar (1) 

Hanover, New Hampshire 
Dartmouth College Museum and Galleries 
Sculpture in stone: stelae (2) 

Textiles: (fr: 1) 

Hartford, Connecticut 
Wadsworth Athene ton 
Sculpture in stone: reliefs (2) 

Textiles: various (80) 

Metals: bronze lamps and vessels 

Honolulu, Hawaii 
Honolulu Academy of Arts 
Textiles: various (36) 

Indianapolis, Indiana 
Indianapolis Museum of Art 
Textiles: various (fr: 200) 


Lawrence, Kansas 

Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art 
Relief: (1) 

Textiles: various (fr: many) 

Los Angeles, California 
Los Angeles County Museum of Art 
Sculpture: architectural reliefs (few) 

Textiles: tunic (c: 1); various (34) 

Memphis, Tennessee 
Iirooks Memorial Art Gallery 
Textiles: (fr: 1) 

Minneapolis, Minnesota 
Minneapolis Institute of Arts 
Sculpture: (3) 

Textiles: large woven panel portraying a jeweled 
cross standing in front of a wreath (c: 1); various 

New Brunswick, New Jersey 
New Brunswick Theological Seminary 
Textiles: (19) 

New Haven, Connecticut 

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Papy¬ 
rus Collection, Yale University 
Ceramics: stamp seals (3) 

Yale University Art Gallery 
Sculpture in stone: statuary (3); reliefs (15) 

Ivory and bone: inlay (few) 

Paintings on wood: (1) 

Textiles: (200) 

New York, New York 
Cooper-Hewitt Museum 
Textiles: (175) 

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Egyptian and Islamic 

Sculpture in stone: (many) 

Sculpture in wood: grave monuments 
Reliefs: (many) 

Textiles: (many) 

Minor arts: (many) 

Newark, Delaware 
University of Delaware Gallery 
Ceramics: terra-cotta lamp (1) 

Newark, New Jersey 
Newark Museum 
Sculpture in stone: reliefs (2) 

Sculpture in wood: relief (1) 

Paintings on wood: (1) 

Textiles: (46) 

Ceramics: painted vases (c: 2), (fr: 1); lamps and 
flasks (7) 

Bronzes: large crosses (5); small crosses (14) 

Minor arts: bone and wood objects (31); scale and 
box (1) 

Northampton, Massachusetts 
Smith College Museum of Art 
Textiles: various (fr: 5) 

Oberlin, Ohio 

Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College 
Sculpture: (1) 

Relief: (1) 

Textiles: various (fr: 28) 

Omaha, Nebraska 
Joslyn Art Museum 
Sculpture: (1) 

Relief: (4) 

Textiles: (7) 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 
Drexel Museum Collection, Drexel University 
Textiles: (3) 

Philadelphia Museum of Art 
Textiles: various (fr: 88) 

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Insti¬ 

Textiles: (475) 

Minor arts: (24) 

Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute 
Textiles: (9) 

Princeton, New Jersey 
Art Museum, Princeton University 
Sculpture: (1) 

Textiles: various (fr: 46) 

Minor arts: (23) 

Scheide Library, Princeton University 
Textiles: various (fr: 8) 

Providence, Rhode Island 
Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design 
Sculpture: various (few) 

Textiles: various (250) 

Jewelry: various (few) 

Richmond, Virginia 
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts 
Sculpture in stone: statuettes (few) 

Textiles: various (fr: 7) 

Ivory: statuettes (few) 

Ceramics: various (fr: few) 

San Jose, California 
Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum 
Sculpture in stone: cross (1) 

Textiles: various (many) 

Bronzes: lamp (1) 

MUSIC, COPTIC: Description of the Corpus and Present Musical Practice 


Santa Barbara, California 
Santa Barbara Museum of Art 
Textiles: various (9) 

Santa Monica, California 
J. Paul Getty Museum 
Grave relief: (1) 

Elaborately painted sarcophagus: (1) 

Textiles: various (fr: 2) 

Sarasota, Florida 

John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art 
Minor arts: a few 
Seattle, Washington 
Seattle Art Museum 
Sculpture in stone: relief (1) 

Sculpture in wood: relief (fr: 1) 

Textiles: various (14) 

Stanford, California 
Stanford University Museum of Art 
Textiles: various (125) 

Urbana, Illinois 

World Heritage Museum, University of Illinois 
Textiles: various (28) 

Washington, D.C. 

Dumbarton Oaks , Byzantine Collection 
Sculpture: various (12) 

Textiles: various (160) 

Minor arts: (many) 

Institute of Christian Oriental Research, Catholic 
University of America 

Ceramics: lamps (few); Saint Menas phials (few). 
Textile Museum 

Textiles: various, including large hangings (450) 

Williamstown, Massachusetts 
Williams College Museum of Art 
Sculpture: various (fr: 4) 

Textiles: various (fr: 18) 

Worcester, Massachusetts 
Worcester Art Museum 
Textiles: (116) 

Bronzes: (3) 

Pierre du Bourcuet, S.J. 


Music, Coptic: History. 

MUSIC, COPTIC. [This entry consists of the fol¬ 
lowing articles: 

Description of the Corpus and Present Musical 


Oral Tradition 

Melody, Its Relation to Different Languages 



Musical Instruments 


Transcriptions in Western Notation 

Nonliturgical Music] 

Description of the Corpus and Present 

Musical Practice 

The following remarks pertain only to the music 
of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Other Christian 
churches in Egypt (Greek Orthodox, Coptic Catho¬ 
lic, Protestant, etc.) have their own musical prac¬ 

Coptic music, an expression of a proud and con¬ 
stant faith, still lives today among the Copts as a 
vestige of an age-old tradition. It is monodic, vocal, 
and sung a cappella solely by men, with the excep¬ 
tion of some responses assigned to the whole con¬ 
gregation. Small hand cymbals and the triangle are 
employed with specified pieces during certain ser¬ 
vices (see Musical Instruments, below). 

The Divine Liturgy and Offerings of Incense 

The core of Coptic music lies in the Divine Litur¬ 
gy (Arabic: quddus), whose texts are all meant to be 
sung, excepting the Creed and the Dismissal. In the 
liturgy the most familiar hymns and chants are 
heard. It is basically a great music drama, consist¬ 
ing of three parts: (1) the Preparation; (2) the Litur¬ 
gy of the Word, also called the Liturgy of the Cate¬ 
chumens, which comprises the prayer of 
thanksgiving, the scriptural readings, various inter¬ 
cessions and responses, the recitation of the Creed, 
and the Prayer of Peace; and (3) the anaphora, that 
is, the eucharistic ritual (sec EUCHARIST). The entire 
service may require some three hours of singing, 
and during Holy Week, the special services may last 
six or seven hours. 

Three liturgies (see History, below) have been 
established in the Coptic church: (1) the Liturgy of 
Saint Basil is celebrated throughout the year except 
for the four major feasts of Nativity, Epiphany, Res¬ 
urrection, and Pentecost; also, it is used daily in the 
monasteries whether there is a fast day or not; (2) 
the Liturgy of Saint Gregory is used today in the 
celebration of the four major feasts mentioned 

1716 MUSIC, COPTIC: Description of the Corpus and Present Musical Practice 

O KY - pi.OC Me TX . 

o ky-ri .os me-ta. (a)- — 

Example of officiant's music. Salutation: Preface to the Anaphora from the Liturgy of 
St. Basil. Transcription by Toth. In the transcriptions by Toth, notes with stems turned 
downward can be discerned only when recordings are played at a slow tempo. An 
arrow pointing upward [ T ] over a note indicates a quarter-tone higher, whereas an 
arrow pointing downward [ i ] indicates a quarter-tone lower. All musical transcrip¬ 
tions are made from recordings done at the higher INSTITUTE OF Coptic studies under 
the aegis of Ragheb Moftah. 

above; its music is somewhat more ornate than that 
of the Liturgy of St. Basil and has been character¬ 
ized as the most beautiful because of its high emo¬ 
tion; and (3) the Liturgy of Saint Cyril, also known 
as the Liturgy of Saint Mark, the most Egyptian of 
the three. 

Unfortunately, most of the melodies of the Litur¬ 
gy of Saint Cyril have been lost, and it can no 
longer be performed in its entirety. The most re¬ 
cent record of its performance is that of Patriarch 
MACARIUS ill (1942-1945), who used it regularly. Im¬ 
mediately thereafter, there may have been a lew 

MUSIC, COPTIC: Description of the Corpus and Present Musical Practice 


J = 92 

J = 84 

Example of deacon's music. Bidding: Kiss of Peace from the Liturgy of St. Basil. 
Transcription by Toth. 

J = 92 -104 

Sung alternately (Chorus ilivisi) thirteen times 

Ky-pt .G G-X6II-CON Ky--fl -GG - -X6 - H - - CO - N 

Ky-ri.e e-lee—son Ky--ri-ee - • lc-c - - so—-n 

Ky- - pi --e 6---X6-II- —CON 

Ky--ri • -e e---le-e-son 

Ky--pi--6 6-X6B-CON Ky.pi-6 

Ky- -ri - -e e - Ice - son Ky.ri-e 



Example of antiphonal choral singing. The Forty-one Kyrie preceding the Procession ol 
the Host from the Liturgy of St. Basil. Transcription by Robertson. In the transcriptions 
by Robertson, a plus sign [+J over a note indicates a quarter-tone higher, and a minus 
sign [-] indicates a quarter-tone lower. 

MUSIC, COPTIC: Description of the Corpus and Present Musical Practice 


BO.X N. re N6N NO-61 

vo.1 (e)n - - - * te nen no — vi 

Facing page and above: Example of choral unison singing. Strophe Six ("Through 
the prayers of the saints . . .") from the Response to Censing, from the Liturgy of St. 

Basil. Transcription by Toth. 

priests in Upper Egypt who remembered his man- 1. The officiant, that is, the priest (Arabic: al- 

ner of celebrating the anaphora. Abuna Pachomius K&hin), and/or other high members of the clergy 

al-Muharraql, vice-rector of the clerical college. who happen to be present and wish to participate, 

also performed it on various occasions. According It is the role of the officiant to offer the prayers 

to BURMester, only two chants have survived: the (Arabic: awshiyyah, pi. awashi), which may be recit- 

conclusion of the Commemoration of the Saints ed silently or sung aloud, according to the tradi- 

("Not that we are worthy, Master . . and an ex- tional melodies adjusted to the festal and seasonal 

tract from the Commemoration of the Faithful De- requirements. These prayers are constructed on re¬ 
paired ("And these and everyone, Lord . . .”). curring psalmodic formulas, some beginning with 

The celebration of the liturgy is preceded by two simple, unadorned statements, and others having 

special services unique to the Coptic church, of an extended melisma from the outset. Since they 

which one is observed in the morning just before become more and more elaborate as they continue, 

the liturgy and the other the previous evening. They and conclude with a formula comprised of the rich- 

are known as the Morning (or Evening) Offering of est of melismata, they may be rather lengthy. They 

Incense (Arabic: Raf' Bukhur Bakir and Ruf Hukhur are intoned in free rhythm that generally follows 

'Ashiyyah). Today, in actual practice, the Morning the textual accents and meters. 

Offering of Incense is often incorporated into the 2. The deacon (Arabic: al-shammas) whose duties 

liturgy itself. Like the liturgy, these two services are include relaying the biddings (Arabic: al-ubmsdt, 

cantillated. They include the well-known Hymn of from Grcco-Coptic: rtpoceyxH, derived from Greek 

the Angels (Coptic: Mxp6Ne<i>c NGM Nurruxoc . . . , irpoirevxi), proseukhe) of the officiant, reading the 

marenhos nem niangelos, "Let us sing praises with lessons, and leading the set responses and singing 

the angels . . ."), the Prayer of Thanksgiving (Cop- of the congregational hymns. Like the officiant, he 

tic: MxpenojflnaMOT .... marenshep(e)hmot . . . ), cantillates in free rhythm, and his melodic line may 

various prayers and responses, and other pre- be both rhapsodic and/or chanting. His melodies 

anaphoral material. are generally more rhythmic than those of the offi- 

Thc texts and rubrics for the three liturgies and ciant, with duple and triple metres alternating ac- 

the Offering of Incense are to be found in the eu- cording to the textual accents. Vocalises and 

chologion (Arabic: al-khulaji), which prescribes the melismata are common, but they in no way change 

order of the various prayers, hymns, lections, versi- the basic structure of the melody, 

cles, biddings, and responses. Today these are sung Because the melodies of the officiant and deacon 

in Greco-Coptic, Coptic, and Arabic. The texts are are rendered solo, there is greater opportunity here 

written in the Bohairic dialect (in Upper Egypt the for improvisation and vocal embellishment than in 

Sahidic dialect may be heard), and are accompa- the choir pieces. 

nied by a line-by-line translation in Arabic, with the 3. The choir and/or people (Arabic: al-shu'b) sing 

rubrics all being in Arabic as well. The last section certain responses (Arabic: maraddat) and portions 

of the Euchologion contains the texts of many of the hymns. In the early centuries, these sections 

chants and hymns proper to the various liturgical were assigned to the people as a whole, but as the 

seasons. liturgy developed, they became so complicated that 

The participants in the celebration of the liturgy those who were not musically inclined could not 

and Offering of Incense are: 

sing them. Thus the choir of deacons, trained in 

MUSIC, COPTIC: Description of the Corpus and Present Musical Practice 


Facing page and above: Example of choral vocalise. Beginning of the Trisagion 
Hymn, as sung on Good Friday. Transcription by Robertson. 

singing, replaced the congregation. In the larger 
congregations this choir may number about twelve. 
The deacons involved stand by the iconostasis at 
right angles to the sanctuary in two lines facing 
each other, with one line known as the bahri 
("northern”), and the other as the qibli ("south¬ 
ern”). According to the rubrication of "B” or ”Q” 
marked in the margin of the text, the choir may 
sing antiphonally, strophe about, or two strophes 
about. The singers alternate according to the form 
of the musical phrase. They may also sing in uni¬ 

Among many familiar choir pieces, three may be 
cited: (1) the hymn "We worship the Father. . 
(Coptic: T6NoyoKyT m+kdt, tenouosht(e)m(e)phiol), 
which is sung Wednesday through Saturday at the 
beginning of the Morning Offering of Incense: (2) 
the TRISAGION ("Holy Godl Holy and Mighty! Holy 
and Immortal! . . Greco-Coptic: xrioc o eooc: 
xrioc icxypoc: *rtoc xoxnxtoc .... agios o theos: 
agios isshyros: agios athanatos . . . ), which, accord¬ 
ing to legend, comes from a hymn sung by Nicode- 
mus and Joseph at the Lord's entombment; and (3) 
the LORD S PRAYER (Coptic: xe newton* . . . , je peni- 
Ot...), which is chanted on one note. 

The melodies lor the people and/or choir are 
quite simple, with little embellishment. However, 
certain hymns are complicated by some rudimenta¬ 
ry, rhythmic ornamentation integral to the compo¬ 

As has been stated, this choral singing is monod- 
ic, and should any harmonic elements appear, they 
arc only occasional overlappings of the incipits of 
one part with the finalis of another. Also, the unison 
chant may not always be perfect, for some singers, 
wishing to participate in the acts of praise but not 
having good musical ears, do not listen to each 
other. Such lack of precision may be rather preva¬ 
lent today, for in many churches the people, led 
and supported by the choir of deacons, are again 
actively rendering the hymns and responses, once 

again fulfilling the role originally assigned to them. 
A very wide vibrato characterizes all the singing. 

Although the melodies of the participants are dis¬ 
tinctive, as described above, there are many traits 
common to all. One of the most obvious character¬ 
istics of Coptic music, and one that probably de¬ 
rives from ancient times, is the prolongation of a 
single vowel over many phrases of music that vary 
in length and complication. This phenomenon may 
take two forms identified by scholars as vocalise, 
when the vowel is prolonged with a definite rhyth¬ 
mic pulse, and melisma (pi. melismata), when the 
vowel is prolonged in a free, undefined rhythm. A 
melisma generally lasts from ten to twenty seconds, 
but some vocalises may continue for a full minute. 
Because of these many vocalises and melismata, a 
study of the text alone does not always indicate the 
form of the music. 

The music may further show its independence 
from the text in that musical and textual phrases do 
not always correspond. For example, in the Liturgy 
of Saint Basil, there is considerable enjambment in 
the solos of the priest and in the hymns sung pre¬ 
ceding the anaphora; in some hymns a musical ca¬ 
dence may occur even in the middle of a word 
("Judas, Judas," heard during Holy Week on Maun¬ 
dy Thursday, is a case in point). In addition, the 
music may distort the stress and length of the syl¬ 
lables, especially if the text being sung is Greek. 

Other traits are also prevalent. Melodies tend to 
proceed dialonically, usually within a range of five 
tones, with a characteristic progression of a half¬ 
step, whole step, and half-step, both descending and 
ascending. There may be intervals of thirds in the 
melodic line, although the distinction between the 
major and minor third is not always recognized as 
clearly as in Western music; the augmented second 
is rare; the diminished fourth occurs rather often. 
Throughout, there are numerous microtones, and, 
therefore, many intervals can never be accurately 
reproduced on a keyboard instrument. Indeed, by 


MUSIC, COPTIC: Description of the Corpus and Present Musical Practice 

J = 86 


J = 82 motto rit. 

Example ot characteristic interval progressions, a. From the Hymn Shere Maria ("Hail 
Mary"), preparatory to the Liturgy of St. Basil. b. Typical Cadence (from Psalm 150, 
sung as a Communion Hymn). Transcriptions by Robertson. 

means of these microtones, the implied tonal cen¬ 
tre of a given tune may shift imperceptibly, some¬ 
times by as much as a minor third or more. 

Many scholars have felt that Coptic melodies 
seem to unfold in spontaneous and endless improv¬ 
isation. However, analyses reveal that this music 
has been constructed according to definite forms, 
three of which may be described. (I) Some songs 
are made up of various brief phrases, which are 
woven together so as to form clearly identifiable 
sections (usually three or four) and repeated with 
slight variation; the piece ends with a prescribed 
cadential formula. Concerning these compositions, 
Newlandsmith (see Musicologists, below) isolated 
ten musical phrases which he termed "typical." The 
extended vocalises and mclismata described above 
are found most often in this kind of piece. (2) Other 
melodies are composed of longer, individual phras¬ 
es, complete in themselves, so that one or two such 
phrases, repeated as strophes and/or refrains, are 
sufficient for the construction of an entire hymn. 
(3) Some songs are made up of melodic line and 
rhythm that are simplified to fit the inflection and 
rhythm of the text. Such melodies tend to be syllab¬ 
ic and often have an ambitus of only two or three 

Some important terms, which appear in liturgical 
books and manuscripts to specify the music to be 
sung with a given text, are the Coptic hxoc, adopt¬ 
ed from Greek (echos); the Coptic rc^cm 

(Bohem) or oyo^eH (ouohem). meaning "re¬ 
sponse"; and the Arabic LAHN (pi. alhan). Ibn Birrf 
(1106-1187), as quoted in Lisan at'Arab (compiled 
by Ibn Manzur, 1232-1311), assigned to lahn six 
meanings, among which are "song" and "psalm- 

odizing” or "intoning." Western scholars have 
translated lahn as "tone," "air," and/or "melody," 
but none of these words conveys its full meaning. 
Although the term may have some affinities with 
the Arabic maq&m and the Byzantine echos, in Cop¬ 
tic music it refers basically to a certain melody or 
melody-type which is readily recognized by the peo¬ 
ple and known by a specific, often descriptive 
name, such as lahn al-huzn (". . . of grief"), lahn 
a I-fa rah (". . . of joy"), lahn al-tajntz (". . . for the 
dead"), al-lahn al-ma'rftf ("familiar"), etc. Writing 
in the fourteenth century, ibn kahar named some 
twenty-six alhdn, most of which are still known 
today. Some, designated sanawiyyah (annual), are 
sung throughout the year, whereas others may be 
reserved for one occasion only. The same text may 
be sung to different alhan, and conversely, the 
same lahn may have different texts. Furthermore, 
the same lahn may have three forms: short (qusir), 
abridged (tnukhtasar), and long (( awfl ). Among 
many beautiful alh&n, the sorrowful lahn Idribi may 
be cited as one of the most eloquent. Performed on 
Good Friday, during the Sixth Hour, it expresses 
vividly the tragedy of the Crucifixion. Its text being 
the Psalm versicle preceding the Gospel lection, it 
is also called Mazmur Idribi (Psalm Idribi). This 
name may derive from the ancient village Atribi, 
which once stood near present-day Suhaj, or it may 
stem from Coptic 6 T 6 P 2 HRI (one causing grief). An¬ 
other lahn whose name shows the antiquity of its 
music is Lahn Sinjari , named after sinjAr, an an¬ 
cient village near Rosetta. 

The two melody types most frequently named are 
Adam and Batos (Arabie: adAm and wA’j'US). Hymns 
labeled Adam are to be sung Sunday through Tues- 

MUSIC, COPTIC: Description of the Corpus and Present Musical Practice 


J = 86 

XG-P6 MX * pi .X.'t* -OY--p<») + -B(l) ft X-XO-XI 

she* re Ma-ri.a. ti * • ou - - ro ti - vo (c)n a - lo - li 

ft- - XT- C3p-/)G . XXO) OH - 6 - - T6 MI1G Oy- - 0) - - - - I 

(c)n-- at - er-he.Ho the- e - - le (e)mpeou--o — -i 

Motif V 

ft- - XT- Gp-/)G .XXO) OH - 6 - - T6 MI1G Oy- - 0) - - - - I 

(c)n-- at - er-he.Ho the- e - - le (e)mpeou--o — -i 

Motif V 

G -fO .y - - - (I).| e . poc-- 

e - • • ro.u - - • 6.i e.ros - - 

Example of composition type 1. Beginning of the Hymn Shere Maria ("Hail Mary"), 
preparatory to the Liturgy of St. Basil. Transcription by Robertson. 

J =72-80 

Phrase I. 

rox-ro - ox m -mg - -T-ze.BpG. oc... 

Go!-go-tha (e)m-me--t-he.bre. os... 

J = 72 

Phrase II. 

a f ' ’ o .sh e-vo.1... 

Example of composition type 2. From the Hymn Golgotha, sung during the Twelfth 
Hour on Good Friday. Transcription by Robertson. 

1724 MUSIC, COPTIC: Description of the Corpus and Present Musical Practice 

ih - - - coyc in.xpic - - • roc h — u>n.pi 

Ie - - - - sous pi--(e)Khris * - - tos (e)p - - • she.ri 

M.^- NO Y-I* 

(c)m-(e)ph — nou - - - - li 

CO) - - - - TGM e.PON . . . 

so - - - * tem e.ron . . . 

Example of composition type 3. Near the ending of Psalm 150, sung as a Communion 
Hymn. Transcription by Robertson. 

day, and also on certain specified days, while 
hymns labeled Bat os are reserved for Wednesday 
through Saturday, for the evening service, and for 
Holy Week. The two names derive from the Theo* 
tokia for Kiyahk (see below), in which Adam is the 
first word of the Theotokia foi Monday, xaxm 
<}A.ic*jot : ngm . . . [sic] (Adam ediefoi : nem 

kahnhet .... "When Adam became of contrite spir¬ 
it .. . *'), and Batos is the first word of the Theotok¬ 
ia for Thursday, iiibxtoc en Mayctic : Nxy 
epo'i. . . (pibatos eta mouses : nau erof. . . , "The 
bush which Moses saw . . Although they are dis¬ 
tinct from each other in verse structure, length, and 
mood, their music differs little in contemporary 
practice, and both may be heard in the same serv¬ 

The foregoing descriptions of the music and ter¬ 
minology used in the services of the Divine Liturgy 
and Offering of Incense also apply to the rest of the 
corpus, discussed below. 

The Canonical Hours 

A great wealth of Coptic hymnology may be 
heard in the canonical hours, which are prayers 
performed by lay people in the city churches and 
by monks in the monasteries. There are seven: First 
Hour, or Morning Prayer; Third Hour; Sixth Hour; 
Ninth Hour; Eleventh Hour, or Hour of Sunset; 
Hour of Sleep, with its three Not turns; and Mid¬ 
night Hour. In the monasteries, the Prayer of the 
Veil (Arabic: salat al-sitdr) is added. The book con¬ 
taining these prayers is the Book of the Hours or 

horologion (Coptic: nixAnix, piajpia, from xxn, ajp, 
"Hour"; Arabic: al-ajbiyyah, or salaw&t al-sawai). 

The canonical hours consist of the reading of the 
Psalms assigned for each hour, followed by the can- 
tillation of the Gospel, two short hymns written in 
strophic form, known as troparia (Greek: rponapiov, 
trop&rion, pi. rponapia, troparia), plus two more 
troparia called Theotokia, which are an invocation 
to the Virgin Mary (see below). The troparia and 
Theotokia are separated from one another by the 
Lesser Doxology, which is also cantillated. Then 
follow the Kyrie, the Prayer of Absolution, and 
throughout, responses to each part. Although 
troparia and Theotokia are also heard in the canoni¬ 
cal offices of the Greek Orthodox church, their or¬ 
der of performance is different from that of the 
Copts. The Greek and Coptic melodies differ as 

Since the hours are not dependent on priestly 
direction, in the towns and cities, the musical parts 
of each hour arc led by the cantor (see Cantors, 
below). Formerly, in the monasteries, the monks, 
not being musically educated, could not intone the 
hours; moreover, during the early years of their 
development, the monastic communities rejected 
singing and chanting as not conducive to (he rever¬ 
ence and piety required of their strict discipline. 
Today, however, many of the monks are former 
deacons well acquainted with the melodies of the 
church rites, and they cantillate the hymnic por¬ 
tions of the hours as prescribed. In general, the 
hours are in Arabic only, but in some monasteries, 
the monks are beginning to recite them in Coptic. 

MUSIC, COPTIC: Description of the Corpus and Present Musical Practice 


The Service of Psalniodia 

In addition to the canonical hours, there is a 
special choral service known as Psalniodia (Greek: 
Vaknybia, Psalniodia, Arabic: al-absaIniudiyyah or 
al-tasbihah) (see PSALMODIA), which is performed 
immediately before the Evening Offering of In¬ 
cense, at the conclusion of the Prayer's of the Mid¬ 
night Hour, and between the Office of Morning 
Prayer and the Morning Offering of Incense. In the 
monasteries, Psalniodia is performed daily, but in 
the city churches, it has become customary to per¬ 
form it only on Sunday eve, that is, Saturday night. 

The texts and order of the prayers, the hymns, 
and the lections are to be found in the book, al-Ah- 
salmudiyyuh al-Sanawiyyah. Also, a special book, 
al-Absalniudiyyah al-Kiyahkiyyah, contains the 

hymns to be sung for Advent, that is, during the 
month of Kiyahk. In both books, the basic hymn 
forms of this service are given as follows: 

1. The lids (Coptic: 2 <i>c, derived from Egyptian 
h-s-j, "to sing, to praise" (Arabic: hus, pi. husat), are 
four special songs of praise. Burmester refers to 
them as odes. They comprise two biblical canticles 
(see Canticles, below) from the Old Testament (Hos 
One and Hos Three) and two Psalm selections (Hos 
Two and lids Four). They are strophic, with their 
strophes following the versification given in the 
Coptic biblical text. Unrhymed, they are sung to a 
definite rhythmic pattern, in duple meter. They are 
116s One, Song of Moses (F.x. 15:1-21, Coptic: toth 
viea>c .... tote afhOs . . . , "Then sang Moses . . ."); 
I/Os Two, Psalm 136 (Coptic: oya>N;> 6 box . . . , 
ouonh evol .... "Give thanks unto the Lord,") with 


Jr HX 

OY --0)Ny 6 • * BOX M • <|>NOy - + TT-- -T6 Nl - - - NOy*|' 

ou - - -6nh e--vol (e)m(c)phnou- ti (e)n---tc ni---nouti 

ax.xh .xoy - • ti: X6 neq - - nai (gon tyx 6 - - N6z 

al.Ic.lou - - ia: jc pef--nai shop sha e--neh 


J r XX 

oy - - - o)Ny 6 - - box m - - - n— eoic n - - -re hi — eoic 
ou - - -onh e - - vol (e)m-(e)p—chois (e)n—te ni—chois 


ax.xh .xoy - - ia: xg hgh - - nai <pon <i>a 6 - - ng?. 

al.le.lou - - ia: jc pcf-• nai shop sha e--neh. 

Extract from Hos Two. Strophes two and three with Refrain from Hos Two (Psalm 136), 
from the Service of Psalniodia. Transcription by Toth. 


MUSIC, COPTIC: Description of the Corpus and Present Musical Practice 

an Alleluia refrain in each strophe; Hos Three, the 
Song of the Three Holy Children (Apocrypha, Dn. 
1-67; Coptic ktM\\>u)OyT . . . , (e)k(e)smaroout 
“Blessed art Thou, 0 Lord”), and Hos Four, Psalm 
148 (Coptic: cmoy enOTT 6 bo\ . . . (e)smou epchois 
evol . . . ), Psalm 149 (Coptic: xto MhOTT ... go 
(e)m(e)pchois . . . ), and Psalm 150 (Coptic: 6 moy 
. . . (e)smou e(e)phnouti . . . ); all three Psalms 
of Hos Four may be translated as “Praise ye the 
Lord . . . .” In addition, two other hos are sung for 
the feasts of Nativity and Resurrection, each con¬ 
sisting of a cento of Psalm verses. 

Deriving from the ancient synagogal rites, the hos 
are very old. Indeed, according to Anton 
baumstark, Hos One and Hos Three were the first 
canticles to be used in the Christian liturgy. A frag¬ 
ment of papyrus, brought from the Fayyum by W. 
A. F. petrie, published by W. E. CRUM, and identified 
as a leaf from an ancient Egyptian office book, con¬ 
tains pieces of these two hymns. Further, part of the 

****** ■ ■ 




' / * ' h|W.T * ** 

f L 


* % . 


. i 


• 4 t 



• ^ 


m /V 




/ TX ▼ 

▲ ' 

* • 

f. f / 


Ostracon showing text of //os Three (“The Three Holy 
Children'’). Courtesy Coptic Museum, Cairo. Photo by 
S. K. Brown. 

Greek text of Hos Three has been found on an 
ostracon dating probably from the fifth century. 
From Hos Three has grown the canticle known in 
the West as Benedicite. Descriptions of the four hos 
dating from the fourteenth century, early twentieth 
century, and mid-twentieth century all concur, a 
fact that confirms the unchanged tradition of their 
usage. Each hos is framed by its proper PSALI, 
lobsh, and tarh (see below). 

2. The Theotokia: As mentioned above, the 
Theotokia are hymns dedicated to the Virgin Mary. 
There is one set for each day of the week, with each 
set presenting one aspect of Old Testament typolo¬ 
gy as it applies to Mary, the Mother of God (Greek: 
V deorbxos, he theotokos). The Theotokia for Satur¬ 
day, Monday, and Thursday have nine sets of hymns 
each; those for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday 
have seven; the Sunday Theotokia (performed Sat¬ 
urday night) has eighteen. The strophes for all the 
sets of these seven Theotokia are nonrhyming qua¬ 
trains, whose textual accents prescribe the rhyth¬ 
mic and melodic formulae. Each set has a common 
refrain of one to three strophes that acts as a link to 
unite the set. Along with each Theotokia, there are 
interpolations, which enlarge upon the text (Coptic: 
bo)\, Bol; Greek: epppveia, hermeneia, “interpreta¬ 
tion”), and every set ends with a paraphrase called 
lobsh (see below). In actual practice, not all the sets 
of hymns in a Theotokia are performed in a single 
Psaltnodia service because one hymn may suffice to 
represent the complete set. 

There is a special collection of Theotokia meant 
to be performed only during the month of Kiyahk 
for Advent. De Lacy O’Leary has determined that 
although many of their texts resemble those of the 
Greek Orthodox church—especially those Greek 
hymns attributed to Saint John Damascene and Ar- 
senius the Monk (see arsenius of scetis and turah, 
saint) —the Coptic Theotokia are not translations, 
but, rather, original poems composed on the Greek 
model. De Lacy O’Leary's translation and editions 
of the Theotokia for Kiyahk provide ample material 
for analyzing the texts and comparing manuscripts. 
A succinct summary of their contents has been out¬ 
lined by both Martha Roy and Ilona Borsai (see 
Musicologists, below). As was mentioned above, 
two of these Theotokia have given their names to 
the melody types most commonly used throughout 
the liturgy and offices, namely, Adam and Batos. 

Legend attributes the texts of the Theotokia to 
both Saint Athanasius (see ATHANASIUS I, apostolic 
saint), and Saint ephraem syrus while ascribing the 
melodies to a saintly and virtuous man, a potter by 

MUSIC, COPTIC: Description of the Corpus and Present Musical Practice 


trade, who became a monk in the desert of Scetis. 
Euringer has identified him as Simeon the Potter of 
Geshir (a village in the land of Antioch): he is also 
known as a poet and protege of the hymnist Jacob 
of Sarugh, who died in 521. This date indicates that 
the Coptic Theotokia were composed in the early 
part of the sixth century. 

Mallon, however, asserts that these works are of 
neither the same author nor the same period. He 
would date them no earlier than the filth century, 
but before the Arab conquest of Egypt (642-643). 
In the fourteenth century, Abu al-Barakat wrote 
that the Theotokia for Kiyakh were not used in 
Upper Egypt, but were passed around among the 
churches of Misr, Cairo, and the northern part of 
the country. 

3. The lObsh (Coptic: xojRtv, l6bsh, "crown," "con¬ 
summation"; Arabic: lubsh and/or ta/sir, pi. TAFAslR. 
"explanation, interpretation") immediately follows 
a hds or a Theotokia; it is a nonbiblical text on a 
biblical theme. In hymn form, consisting of four- 
line strophes and usually unrhymed, the lobsh is 
recited rather than sung. However, its title 
designates the appropriate lahn, either* Adam or 
Batos, which would seem to indicate that at one 
time it was sung. 

4. The Psalis (Coptic: txxi, Psali; Arabic: ab$aliy- 
YAH, or madlh, pi. mada'ih, "praise, laudation") are 
metrical hymns that accompany either a Theotokia 
or has. Muyser and yassa *abd al-masIh have pub¬ 
lished detailed editions of certain Psalis, using man¬ 
uscripts dating from the fourteenth and eighteenth 
centuries. Their articles serve to demonstrate the 
high level of technique in handling Coptic rhymes 
and rhythms attained by Psali authors. Every Psali 
has from twenty-six to forty-six strophes, each of 
which is a rhymed quatrain; the rhyming schemes 
may vary. The strophes are often arranged in acros¬ 
tic order according to the Coptic or Greek alphabet 
by the first letter of each strophe. Some are even in 
double acrostic, and others in reverse acrostic. 
Such patterns serve as mnemonic devices, enabling 
the singers to perform the hymns in their entirety 
with no omissions. 

One feature which makes the Psalis very popular 
is the refrain, an clement rarely found in the ritual 
pieces of the liturgies and canonical hours, or in 
the hOs and Theotokia of the service of Psalmodia. 
Usually the refrain is made by repeating only the 
fourth line of the strophe, but sometimes both the 
third and fourth lines are repeated. 

Another unusual aspect of the Psalis is that, ex¬ 
cept for a few pai*aphrases reserved for Kiyahk, 

these are the only pieces of Coptic music whose 
authors are identified in the texts. The writer's 
name may be found embedded in a strophe, with a 
plea for mercy and pardon from sin, and with men¬ 
tion of him as "the poor servant" or "a poor sin¬ 
ner." In the paraphrases, the author's name may be 
given in acrostic form as the first letter of each 
strophe of the hymn, or as the initial letter of each 
of a set of hymns arranged seriatim. 

Most Psalis are to be sung either to the melody- 
type Adam or Batos, depending on the day of the 
week, and are thus designated as Psali Adam or 
Psali Batos. However, certain ones specify the title 
of another familiar Psali or hymn to whose melody 
they may be sung. These melodies are rhythmic and 
syllabic, that is, the notes match the texts with little 
trace of melisma or improvisation; their range usu¬ 
ally covers four, or at most, five tones; they swing 
along in quasi-parlando style, and emphasis on tex¬ 
tual and melodic accents makes them easy to sing, 
all of which encourages congregational participa¬ 
tion. The very simplicity of these hymns leads the 
listener to speculate that herein lies the oldest core 
of ancient Egyptian melody. 

A few Psalis are written in both Coptic and 
Greek, some in both Coptic and Arabic, and others 
in Arabic alone. Only one manuscript entirely in 
Greek has been discovered (Church of Saint 
Barbara, Old Cairo, History 8. 1385). Most Psalis, 
however, are in the Bohairic dialect, and the dale 
of their composition is unknown. It is probable that 
some are no earlier than the thirteenth century. On 
the other hand, certain Psalis in the Sahidic dialect 
have been assigned to the ninth and tenth centuries 
(Morgan Collection, vol. XIII). These latter are in 
acrostic order, according to the letters of the alpha¬ 
bet, and they arc unrhymed. 

5. The TARN (pi. turuhdl) usually denotes a para¬ 
phrase used to explain a preceding has, Theotokia, 
or Gospel reading. It differs from the lobsh or psali 
in that it is introduced with two unrhymed strophes 
in Coptic, which arc followed by an Arabic prose 
text. In general, it is recited, not sung. Sometimes 
the same hymn is termed both Psali (Coptic) and 
tarh (Arabic), but, technically speaking, it may be 
considered a tarh when it follows the Coptic hymn 
of the Gospel lections. A tarh dating from the ninth 
century has been edited by Maria CRAMER. Written 
in Sahidic for Palm Sunday, it was supposed to be 
sung. Abu al-Barakat referred to the tarh as a hymn, 
which further testifies to its once musical character. 

6. The doxologies are hymns of praise sung dur¬ 
ing the service of Psalmodia in honor of the season, 


MUSIC, COPTIC: Description of the Corpus and Present Musical Practice 


- Noy - - •(* 
(e)ph - nou • - ti 

nx — woy - • + 6 —ro>: nc- ton - - • pe<i - 

pa — nou-- ti e—go: pc-ten---ref- 

C(i)-'|- GK TON 
so-ti ek ton 



C6---A(e)fXK Ml-CXXK XB- 

Se- - - d(e)-rak Mi-saak Ab- 

A6 - - na .rtu: 

de - - na.g6: 


hos e - - - rol a - - ri-hou o chasf. 

Extract from a Psali. Strophe twenty-one with Refrain from Psali Aripsaiin .... from 
the Service of Psalntodia. Transcription by Toth. 

the Virgin Mary, the angels, the apostles, the saint 
of a particular church, or other Coptic saints, as 
time may allow. Their texts are similar in structure 
to those of the Psali and tarh, having short strophes 
of four lines each and concluding with the last 
strophe of the Theotokia for the day. 'Abd al-Masih 
has published detailed studies of the doxologies. 

In addition to the foregoing, other special hymns 
are sung by the Copts in commemoiation of their 
saints and martyrs. These are to be found in the 
DIFNAr or Antiphonarium (Greek: airndnovapiov, 
antiphon^rion, horn 6tvTi<t>ioi>k(o, antiphoneo, "to an¬ 
swer, to reply"), a book containing biographies of 
the Coptic saints written in hymnic form. This vol¬ 
ume also includes hymns for the fasts and feasts. 
The texts arc arranged in strophes of rhymed quat¬ 
rains, and two hymns are given for the same saint, 
their use being dependent on the day of the week, 

that is, one for the days of Adam, and another for 
the days of Datos. Because these hymns are quite 
long, only two or three strophes may be sung dur¬ 
ing the service of Psalmodia to commemorate the 
saint of the day. Further, if the synaxarion is read 
as a commemoration, the singing of the difnar 
hymn may be omitted completely. 

The compilation of the difnar is ascribed to the 
seventieth patriarch, GABRIRI. n (1131-1145). How¬ 
ever, the oldest known manuscript with difnar ma¬ 
terial dates from 893 (Morgan Library, New York, 
manuscript 575). Another unpublished difnar from 
the fourteenth century, found in the library of the 
Monastery of St. Antony (see DAYR anbA ANTONIYUS), 
has been described by A. Piankofr and photo¬ 
graphed by T. Whitlemore. 

Mention should also be made of the numerous 
ritual books that contain further repertoire to be 

MUSIC, COPTIC: Canticles 


sung for particular liturgical occasions such as ihe 
rile of holy baptism and the rite for marriage. 
Each of these many rituals has its own book detail¬ 
ing the specifics of the rite, which of course include 
the use of music. Other rituals with iheir special 
books containing hymns for the specific occasions 
are those for the feasts and fasts of the liturgical 
calendar, such as the ritual for the least of the 
Nativity, for the feast of Epiphany, for the feast of 
the Resurrection, for the feast of Pentecost, for the 
fast of Holy Week, the fast of the Virgin Mary, and 
others too numerous to mention here (see feasts, 

There is one other book very important in the 
description of the corpus, The Services of the Dea¬ 
con (Arabic: Khidmat al-Shamm&s), which was as¬ 
sembled by Abuna Takla and first published in 
1859. This work was compiled from Ihe various 
books and collections of hymns already in existence 
in order to assist the deacon, who, along with the 
cantor, has the responsibility for the proper selec¬ 
tion and order of the hymns and responses for each 
liturgy and office. This book outlines the hymns and 
responses in Coptic and Arabic for the liturgies and 
canonical offices throughout the year—according 
to the various seasons and the calendar of feasts 
and fasts—and for the various rites such as wed¬ 
dings, funerals, baptisms, and so on. 

Its rubrics are all in Arabic, but the hymns and 
responses are in both Coptic and Arabic. Musical 
terms are employed in directing the singers. The 
name of the lahn for each hymn and response is 
specified, and the rubric for the use of instruments 
(Arabic: hi-al-ndqus, "with cymbals") is also indicat¬ 
ed where necessary. Since its first printing, The 
Services of the Deacon has appeared in four edi¬ 

Ragheb Moftah 
Marian Roberson 
Martha Roy 
Margit Toth 


In addition to the Psalms, some ol the early 
Christian churches adopted into their system of ca¬ 
nonical offices certain Old Testament praises and 
prayers which are known today as canticles. The 
Coptic church recognizes twenty-one in all, eight¬ 
een from the Old Testament and three from the 
New Testament. Two of the Old Testament canti¬ 

cles are also sung as hos during the office of Psal- 
tttodia (Hos One, the Song of Moses, and fids T hree, 
the Song of the Three Holy Children). The three 
from the New Testament are embedded as Gospel 
lections in six of the hymns of the Sunday Theotok- 
ia for Kiyakh (see Description of the Corpus and 
Present Musical Practice above). These are: the 
Song of Mary' (Lk. 1:46-55, known in the West as 
the Magnificat); the Song of Simeon (Lk. 2: 29-32, 
known as the Nunc Dimittis); and the Prayer 
of Zacharias (Lk. 2: 69-79, known as the Benedic- 

The lull set of canticles is performed at the vigil 
service on the night of Good Friday (the eve of 
Saturday). For this service, the officiant and his dea¬ 
cons are seated around a low table upon which are 
placed three lighted candles, and they read the Bib¬ 
lical prayers and hymns, each deacon taking his 
turn at reading one canticle. The Song of Moses 
and the Song of the Three Holy Children are per¬ 
formed in Coptic. All the rest are recited in Arabic. 
The full set includes: 

Old Testament (LXX) 

1. Song of Moses (Ex. 15:1-21). 

2. Second Song of Moses (Dt. 32:1-43). 

3. Prayer of Hannah (1 Sm. 2: 1-11). 

4. Prayer of Habakkuk (Hb. 3:2-19). 

5. Prayer of Jonah (Jon. 2: 2-10). 

6. Prayer of Hezekiah (Is. 38: 10-20). 


7. Prayer of Manasses (Man. 1-15). 

Old Testament (LXX) 

8. Prayer of Isaiah (1) (Is. 26: 9-20). 

9. Praise of Isaiah (2) (Is. 25: 1-12). 

10. Praise of Isaiah (3) (Is. 26: 1-9). 

It. Praise of Jeremiah (Lam. 5:16-22). 


12. Praise of Baruch (Bar. 2:11-16). 

Old Testament (lxx> 

13. Praise of Elijah (I Kgs. 18:26-39). 

14. Prayer of David (II Kgs. 29:10-13). 

15. Prayer of King Solomon (I Kgs. 8:22-30). 

16. Prayer of Daniel (Dn. 9:4-19). 

17. Vision of Daniel (Dn. 3:1-23). 


18. Song of the Three Holy Children (Dn. 1-67). 

New Testament 

19. Song of Mary (Lk. 1:46-55). 

20. Song of Simeon (Lk. 2: 29-32). 

21. Prayer of Zachariah (Lk. 1:68-79). 

Ragheb MorrAit 
Martha Roy 

1730 MUSIC, COPTIC: The Oral Tradition 

The Oral Tradition 

All the manuscripts discovered and books com¬ 
piled to date record only texts and rubrics. There is 
no known notation now in existence designed spe¬ 
cifically for Coptic music, though manuscripts bear¬ 
ing ancient Greek notation have been found in 
Egypt (see History, below). From the beginnings of 
the church, the music has passed from one person 
to another, from one generation to the next, by oral 
teaching and rote learning. Thus Coptic music has 
always depended on a continuous oral tradition. 

Because the Copts have tended to be fiercely con¬ 
servative about the many rituals of their religion, it 
is reasonable to suppose that they must also have 
been meticulous in regard to the music. According 
to Mans Hickmann (see Musicologists, below), this 
music was held as a sacred trust by those who 
learned it, and indeed, was purposely not tran¬ 
scribed lest it fall into the wrong hands. For the 
most part, the instruction must have been very 
strict and rigid, as it is today (see Cantors, below). 

To study the reliability of this tradition, Marian 
Robertson has compared transcriptions of the same 
piece of music written decades apart by different 
scholars. These studies indicate that the simpler 
melodies may have remained intact for centuries. 
Other comparisons of recordings made years apart 
at the Institute of Coptic Studies also show that the 
basic melodies have remained unchanged, and that 
even the embellishments, though varying slightly, 
occur in the same places throughout the melody in 
question. This is especially true for those composi¬ 
tions sung by the choir. In the case of solo perform¬ 
ers, variation and improvisation are to be found, 
particularly in the embellishments and melismata, 
as may be expected. 

In view of the abundance and complexity of Cop¬ 
tic music, one might well wonder if any mnemonic 
devices were used to aid in transmitting it. Hick¬ 
mann maintained that a system of chironomy that 
dates from the Fourth Dynasty (2723 2563 B.c.) is 
still employed. However, not all scholars have 
shared this opinion. Indeed, Ragheb Moftah, head 
of the Music Department at the Institute of Coptic 
Studies, affirms that although a cantor may use his 
hands in directing other singers, his system is strict¬ 
ly individual and not consciously adopted from any¬ 
one. The chironomic gestures used in Coptic sing¬ 
ing seem to relate more to setting the rhythm than 
to delineating the pitches of a given melody. 

Scholars do not agree concerning the antiquity 

and purity of the Coptic musical tradition. Admit¬ 
tedly, without notated manuscripts, it is virtually 
impossible to unravel the sources of the many mel¬ 
odies. Nevertheless, specialists who have studied, 
transcribed, and analyzed this music concur that, at 
the very least, it does reflect an extremely ancient 
practice. Ernest Newlandsmith (see Musicologists, 
below) traced it to pharaonic Egypt, whereas Rene 
Menard, a bit more cautious, proposed that those 
melodies sung in Coptic descended from the pre- 
Islamic era. In all probability, various sections of 
the music, like the numerous texts, were intro¬ 
duced into the rites during different stages of the 
early Coptic church, and the music as a whole does 
not date from any single era or region. It is clear, 
however, that the musical tradition has continued 
unbroken from its beginnings to the present day. 
Hickmann considered it a living link between the 
past and the present. 

Ragheb Moitaii 
Marian Robertson 
Martha Roy 

Melody, Its Relation to Different 


The relation of various languages to Coptic melo¬ 
dy is a study still in its infancy. Comparison of 
pieces sung interchangeably in different languages 
could help identify the nature of change as well as 
indicate roughly the age of certain hymns whose 
texts have been identified in ancient manuscripts. 

The titles and rubrics for many hymns designate 
various linguistic origins (for the texts at least), 
with most being noted as Rum f, that is, from Byzan¬ 
tium, or "the New Rome," as it was once known. 
Burmester referred to a number of Greek troparia 
from the Byzantine offices which are also used in 
the Coptic office. Further, as has been mentioned, 
several Psalis show affinities to Greek (see Descrip¬ 
tion of the Coipus and Present Musical Practice, 
above). Other hymns are designated as Hcheirl, 
from northern Egypt, Sa'idi, from southern Egypt, 
or Masri, from the central part of the country. Each 
region has its own distinctive dialect. 

Initial investigations have revealed that when 
texts are sung interchangeably in different tongues, 
the melodies remain essentially intact. For exam¬ 
ple, in the Easter hymn, "Remember me, O Lord" 
(performed on Good Friday during the Sixth Hour), 
which is sung first in Coptic (xpinAMeyi o> nxOTT, 



aripamevi o pachois) and then in Greek, 
pov xvpLe, mnestheti mou kyrie), the music docs not 
change with the language. Other examples could be 

Scholars have observed that, with the translation 
of the liturgies and numerous hymns into Arabic, 
those melodies put to an Arabic text have tended to 
become simpler, shorter, and less ornamented than 
the original Coptic version. Fear has been ex¬ 
pressed that the Coptic melodies sung in Arabic 
may lose their genius and character, especially 
where extensive vocalise is concerned. However, 
the few studies made of pieces sung interchangea¬ 
bly in Coptic (or Greek) and Arabic seem to show 
that the basic melodic lines and rhythms are kept 
intact, and that even the ornamentation is main¬ 
tained to a remarkable degree. The Faster song 
reserved for Maundy Thursday, "Judas, Judas ...” 
(Greek: Tov&vs, 'loft&v? . . . , Ioudas, Ioudas . . . ; 
Arabic: Yahttdha, Yahudhd . . . ), may be cited as an 
example. Nonetheless, conclusions must await 
much further comparison. 

Other hymns written originally in Arabic 
(mad&'ih) have been introduced into the liturgy in 
relatively recent times. Those well acquainted with 
the age-old traditions aver that despite the populari¬ 
ty of the attractive melodies and rhythms of the 
mad&'ih, these newer hymns contain little of theo¬ 
logical or spiritual value. 

Further, Copts now maintaining residence in for¬ 
eign lands have begun to perform their liturgies in 
French, English, and German. Experts once again 
express fear that, with this trend, the unique style 
and flavor of the true Coptic melodies will be ab¬ 
sorbed into new expressions unable to reflect their 
distinctive heritage. They feel that Coptic music 
must be sung in the Coptic language if it is to 
express the spirituality of the ancient church. 

Marian Robertson 


Possible Sources and Antecedents 

There are three primary traditions from which 
Coptic music very likely absorbed elements in vary¬ 
ing proportions: the Jewish, the Greek, and the an¬ 
cient Egyptian. 

Possible Jewish Influence. Many aspects of the 
Jewish services were adopted by the Christian 
church in Egypt. As elsewhere in the primitive 
church, the whole of the Old Testament was proba¬ 

bly adopted, with the Psalter being the oldest and 
most venerated song book. The ALLELUIA (Ps. 105- 
150) and Sanctus (Coptic: XOyXB *o*oyxB 
(e)Khouab, (e)Khouab, (e)Khouab.... "Holy, 
Holy, Holy . . .") (Is. 6:3) are two notable hymn 
texts that have become an integral part of the Cop¬ 
tic rites. According to John Gillespie, the benedic¬ 
tion, Baruh Ahtah Adonai ("Thanks be to Thee, O 
Lord”), was also adopted by the Copts. However, 
how much Jewish liturgical music came into the 
Coptic church, either from Jerusalem or Alexan¬ 
dria, must remain a matter of speculation at this 
point. To date, no specific melodies have been iden¬ 
tified as belonging to both traditions. Hans Hick- 
mann even postulated that although the music from 
the synagogue played an important role in the de¬ 
velopment of the Syrian and Byzantine liturgies, in 
Egypt the case might have been reversed, that is, 
Jewish music in Egypt could itself have been influ¬ 
enced by the pagan Egyptian liturgies. 

Possible Greek Influence. The Greek koine 
0 Koiidj ), which was the lingua franca of the eastern 
Mediterranean, became the language of the primi¬ 
tive Christian church. The Hellenized centers of 
Egypt—Alexandria in particular—produced nota¬ 
ble Greco-Egyptian music theorists and teachers 
such as the grammarian Didymus of Alexandria 
(first century a d), for whom the "Didymian Com¬ 
ma" (an interval between a major and minor tone) 
is named; Pseudo-Demetrius of Phaleron (first cen¬ 
tury A.D.), who wrote the first composition manual 
known in music history; Claudius Ptolemy (second 
century a.d.), whose Harmonics became the stan¬ 
dard mathematical treatise on music; Alypios of Al¬ 
exandria (c. 360 a.d.), whose comprehensive survey 
of Greek notation made the deciphering of Greek 
music possible; the poet-teacher DIOSCORUS OF 
APHRODITO (fourth century); the Gnostic VALENTINUS 
(fourth century); and Proclus (421-485). 

Two manuscripts containing early Greek musical 
notation have been found in Egypt. The first one is 
pre-Christian; it dates from about the middle of the 
third century B.c. and is one of the most ancient 
pieces of musical notation yet discovered (Zenon, 
Cairo Museum, no. 59532). The second is a hymn 
fragment dating from the middle of the third centu¬ 
ry a.d. (from the Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 1786, ed. 
Grenfell and Hunt). Recognized as the earliest ex¬ 
ample of notated Christian hymnody, it was proba¬ 
bly once part of the Coptic repertoire, although it is 
not known to the church today. A study of these 
two manuscripts, as they have been transcribed by 
modern scholars, shows that both contain an 

1732 MUSIC, COPTIC: History 

ambitus and intervals much larger than those nor¬ 
mally heard in Coptic music; nor are the interval 
progressions similar. However, there may be some 
cadential likenesses. Another manuscript discov¬ 
ered in Egypt is a hymn fragment, Hymn of the 
Savior, ascribed to clement of Alexandria (c. 150— 
220), which, however, may date from an earlier per¬ 
iod. Only the text is given. Three more papyri from 
Egypt, edited by Jourdan-Hemmcrdinger, contain a 
system of dots related to letters of the text, which 
may perhaps indicate a type of musical notation. 
Two of these date from the third century B.c., but 
one of them (British Museum, Inv. 230), found in 
the Fayyfim and dating from the third or fourth 
century A.D., appears to be from a Psalter written in 
Greek. None of these has yet been deciphered into 
musical form. One other manuscript of Egyptian 
provenance, dating from the fifth or sixth century 
a.d,, is controversial. Covered with circles of varied 
sizes and colors, it was considered by A. Gulezyan 
of New York to represent musical notation, which 
he transcribed into Western notation and subse¬ 
quently published. Jourdan-Hemmcrdinger, viewing 
it as a possible development from the system of 
dots, has tentatively identified it as an elementary 
manual of practical music. Eric Werner and Rend 
Menard, on the other hand, do not consider it to be 
any kind of musical notation. 

Although it is obvious that many texts are com¬ 
mon to both the Coptic and Greek Churches, it 
does not necessarily seem to follow that the melo¬ 
dies have been held in common as well. For exam¬ 
ple, the great hymns The Only-Begotten (Greek: 6 
fxopoycur}^, ho monogenes) and the trisagion have 
the same text in both traditions, but the Greek and 
Coptic melodies for them are entirely different. In 
view of this fact and other supporting observations, 
one might tentatively propose that both the melodic 
style and individual melodies of the Coptic church 
appear to have remained distinct. However, since 
the relation of Greek and Coptic music is a study 
still in its infancy, no comprehensive or definitive 
statement can be made about this problem at pres¬ 

Possible Egyptian Influence. Despite Greek in¬ 
fluences in the urban centers, in the pharaonic tem¬ 
ples and throughout the rural areas in general, an¬ 
cient Egyptian music continued to be performed. 
"The people thought, felt, and sang 'Egyptian”’ 
(Hiekmann, 1961, p. 17). Horudsha, a harpist, and 
'Ankh-hep, a temple musician and cymbal player 
(both first century A.D.), arc two professionals whose 
names indicate their Egyptian roots. 

Hiekmann proposed a connection between the 

Kyrie and the ancient Egyptian rites of the sun-god, 
and according to Baumstark, a litanic form of the 
Isis prayer is found in the Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 
1380; even the invocations of the saints in the Ro¬ 
man formulary are closely related to this ancient 
cult. In the Songs of Isis and Ncphthys (Middle 
Kingdom texts, trans. both Faulkner and Schott), 
evidence exists of antiphona! singing, which still 
remains today as a basic feature of Coptic music 
(see antiphon and Description of the Coipus and 
Present Musical Practice, above). This practice was 
also known among the Therapcutae, an ascetic sect 
of Alexandria (c. 100 b.c.). Another Coptic musical 
characteristic that might have existed in pharaonic 
Egypt is the vocalise and/or melisma (see Descrip¬ 
tion of the Corpus, above). After research into Mid¬ 
dle Kingdom texts, Hiekmann suggested that cer¬ 
tain repeated syllables (transliterated by him as 
Xe, xe , khe, khe, khe . . . ) might be interpreted 
as such. Further, some Gnostic texts contain vocal¬ 
ises said to be built on the seven "magic vowels." 
Pseudo-Demetrius of Phaleron referred to this phe¬ 
nomenon as well, calling it "kalophony." Other 
holdovers from ancient Egypt could be the use of 
professional blind singer's in the performance of the 
liturgical services (see Cantors, below), and the use 
of percussion instruments in certain rituals (see 
Musical Instruments, below). Hiekmann and Borsai 
felt that the folk songs of Egyptian villagers have 
melodies and rhythms similar to those of Coptic 
chant. Much more research needs to be done, how¬ 

From the Beginning of the Church lo the 
Council of Chalcedon (451 a.d.) 

Like other Christian churches in the early centur¬ 
ies, the Coptic church was a national one. It used 
the musical style and perhaps even some melodies 
familiar to the people. According to Baumstark, the 
primitive liturgical texts were, for the most part, 
improvisations. The rites developed gradually, and 
varied from region to region. But there was 
throughout the church a common font of texts 
meant to be sung. The Coptic hOs might possibly be 
assigned to this first period (see Description of the 
Corpus, above). De Lacy O’Leary, maintaining that 
the earliest hymns were composed in imitation of 
the Psalms, suggested that such works should be 
dated before the second half of the third century. In 
this regard, he cited three hymns from Coptic ser¬ 
vices that appear to have derived from the Syrian 
rite or "its Byzantine daughter," the gloria in 
excelsis (Luke 2:14), the Trisagion , and the Prayer 



of Esaias (excerpts from Is. 8 and 9, not to be 
confused with the canticles; see Canticles, above). 
This last hymn is no longer found in recent Coptic 
liturgical books. For its part, the Coptic church 
probably influenced the rites of the Syrian church, 
for by 350, public observance of the daily office (the 
Third, Sixth, and Ninth Hours) had begun in Syria, 
and it is reasonable to suppose that the general 
plans of psalm chanting and lessons were suggested 
by the already existing monastic practices of Lower 
Egypt. However, the outline of the Coptic llorologi- 
on (see canonical hours, book of) might not really 
have taken shape until the fifth century. 

The Copts adopted Saint Paul's classification of 
songs suitable for worship (Eph. 5:19 and Col. 
3:16), Psalms (Greek: ipaAfxoi, psalmoi; Coptic: 
^XAMOc, Psalmos), hymns (Greek: u/x/'ot. hymnoi; 
Coptic: £moy, (e)smou), and spiritual songs (Greek: 
ibSai , odai; Coptic: e<uA.H, hode). Some experts feel 
that these terms refer to the texts to be used, 
whereas others propose that they relate to the style 
of singing. According to Werner, the psalms, 
hymns, and canticles were established as three dis¬ 
tinct forms in the fourth century. 

As to the three divine liturgies, their texts must 
have been set in the fourth and fifth centuries, 
when the church at Alexandria played a very active 
role throughout the Mediterranean. Although the 
authors of the liturgies came from Cappodocia, 
each had close ties with Egypt. Saint BASH. THE 
GREAT (c. 330-379) served an apprenticeship in a 
Pachomian monastery before introducing monasti- 
cism into Byzantium; Saint Gregory of nazianzus 
(c. 257-337) was a pupil of DIDYMUS THE blind in 
and Saint CYRIL I thf. great (412-444), as patriarch 
of Alexandria, stood at the head of the Coptic 

In these early centuries, the church expressed 
varying attitudes toward music. At its inception, the 
church used music as a means of attracting prose¬ 
lytes; an example is the story of Philemon, “the 
disciple of Saint Peter," who is credited with con¬ 
verting many souls by means of his beautiful sing¬ 

The church fathers had various attitudes toward 
music. Clement of Alexandria (see above) did not 
approve of instruments, but accepted singing. He 
did, nonetheless, seek to ban chromatic and nondi- 
atonic scales from church music as being loo vo¬ 
luptuous. ORIGEN (c. 185-254), that controversial 
figure in Coptic church history, attested the wide 
use of singing in many languages throughout the 
church. Saint athanasius i (326-373), patriarch of 

Alexandria, sought to keep psalm singing from be¬ 
coming overclaboratc; the Copts have ascribed to 
him the hymn The Only-Begotten (the Greek church 
ascribes it to the Emperor JUSTINIAN I, who is said to 
have written it in 528; the Syrian church ascribes it 
to severus OF antioch, c. 465-538). Saint Basil, the 
author of the liturgy bearing his name, defended 
the singing of psalms both antiphonally and re- 
sponsorially, a practice popular in many lands in¬ 
cluding Egypt, Libya, Palestine, and Syria. Accord¬ 
ing to De Lacy O’Leary, it was Saint Basil who 
introduced this more melodious, antiphonal type of 
singing into the Byzantine church to supplement an 
older, more severe style known as "Alexandrian.” 
Although this scholar describes the new style as 
"Syrian,” if one considers Saint Basil's own re¬ 
marks, the antiphonal style must have already been 
known in Egypt and elsewhere in the Eastern Medi¬ 
terranean. Though not a church father, ARilJS (c. 
250-336), author of the Arian heresy, should also 
be mentioned, for he versified his theology in a 
collection of hymns known as Thalia (Feast), com¬ 
posing them on models of popular folk songs in an 
effort to win the people to his cause. 

In the monastic communities, attitudes toward 
music varied as well, palladius 1 Lansiac History re¬ 
lates that in the days of Saint ANTONY, “the habita¬ 
tions of the monks were accepted as tabernacles of 
praises, and Psalms, and hymns . . . ,” and it was 
expected that the monks “should pray continually 
and be ready [to sing] Psalms and [to recite) the 
Office before they went to sleep." It is also told that 
when Saint Antony and Saint Paul met, “they said 
together the Psalms twelve times . . . , and then 
they sang and prayed until morning." However, as 
the monasteries developed, the monks, in their ex¬ 
treme asceticism, condemned music. An anecdote 
from JOHN OF MAYUMA tells of Abbot SILVANUS (fourth 
century) who, as a monk first at Scctis, then at 
Sinai, and finally in Palestine, felt that singing hard¬ 
ened the heart, was a primary act of pride, and that 
as such, was not for the monks but rather for those 
outside the monasteries. Abbot pambo (c. 320-373) 
was another to deplore any use of music. 

In these early centuries of Christianity, the influ¬ 
ence of the Coptic church and its liturgical services 
was felt not only throughout the eastern Mediterra¬ 
nean, but beyond. Through the efforts of Coptic 
missionaries, who spread the Gospel even as far as 
Ireland, and through traces left by the Theban Le¬ 
gion in northern Italy, Switzerland, and down the 
Rhine Valley, remnants of the Coptic faith were left 
throughout western Europe. Music probably fol¬ 
lowed closely upon this trail. Stanley Lane-Poole, as 

1734 MUSIC, COPTIC: History 

quoted by Atiya, has called Irish Christianity "the 
child of the Egyptian Church" (Atiya, 1968, p. 54), 
and one is tempted to wonder if those early Coptic 
missionaries brought a bit of their own highly 
developed music with them to this distant land and 
left it along with their names. According to 
O'Curry, the famous Irish harp may have come 
from Egypt. In Ireland are found three representa¬ 
tions ol a harp without a forepillar. The first such 
items hitherto discovered outside of Egypt, they are 
an ornamental cover of an Irish manuscript dating 
from at least 1064; a drawing taken from one of the 
ornamental compartments of a sculptured cross at 
Monasterboice set up before 830; and a similar 
monument at the old church of Ullard, County Kil¬ 
kenny, which appears to be even older than the 
Monasterboice item. O'Curry also fell that the qua¬ 
drangular harp of the ancient Tuathe D6 Danaan 
people, though not exactly the same, could have 
been modeled upon the early Grcco-Egyptian harp 
ol this same form. How these harps were intro¬ 
duced into Ireland is unknown at present. 

As well as missionaries, Coptic monasteries influ¬ 
enced ritual in Europe. To cite one example, the 
established Coptic recitation of twelve psalms was 
almost certainly the basis of the similar twelve- 
psalm series in the Gallic and Roman churches. As 
yet, no melodies have been discovered that are 
identical to any specific Coptic hymns or chants, 
but there is a similarity of style (inter vals, ambitus, 
rhythms), particularly in the simpler Coptic syllabic- 
chanting. Baumstark, in discussing the Roman 
hymn of the Cross, "We adore Thy Cross" (Latin: 
Crucem tuam adoramus), opined that the original 
ideas and even certain expressions (which came 
into Roman usage via a Byzantine troparion) go 
back, as some papyrus fragments show, to extreme 
antiquity, and seem to derive from Christian Egypt. 
Also, two ancient formularies in the Roman rite 
have special kinship with Alexandrian usage; for the 
original combination of "Let us bend our knees" 
and "Arise" (Latin: Flectamus genua and Levate), 
ancient Egypt alone offers corresponding phrases, 
still used by the Copts during Lent (Greco-Coptic: 
AtucTtoMeN: kxin<dmgn tx i’ONxtx, anastomen: klino¬ 
men ta gonata). 

After the Council of Chalcedon (451) to the 
Arab Conquest (642/643) 

After the Council of Chalcedon, the Copts severed 
ties with the Byzantine and Roman churches, and 
purposely withdrew unto themselves, vowing to 
keep their traditions uncontaminated. What exactly 

happened regarding music is unknown. However, 
there is some indication that the Copts kept their 
music distinct and apart from Byzantine influence. 
Specific mention is made in the HISTORY OF THE 
patriarchs of the people rejoicing when Patriarch 
ISAAC (686-689, see Isaac, saint) had the liturgies 
restored in the churches of the Orthodox (Coptic) 
which had been prohibited due to Melchite (Byzan¬ 
tine) domination. Elsewhere in the same History 
there is a description of the monks going forth from 
their monastery, dayr anba maqar. singing their tra¬ 
ditional sacred songs to greet the patriarch, who 
had been exiled from Alexandria to this desert re¬ 
treat. This work further states that long after the 
Arab conquest, during the reigns of Patriarchs 
Christodoulus (1046-1077, see Jerusalem, Coptic see 
OF), CYRIL II (1078-1092), and MICHAEL tv (1092- 
1102), the Copts worshiped separately from all 
other Christians and kept their own rituals. 

Despite their self-imposed separation from Byzan¬ 
tium and Rome, the Copts continued to maintain 
contact with the Syrian church and its music. Dur¬ 
ing the fifth and sixth centuries, there was a flour¬ 
ishing music school at the Syrian Monastery of 
Saint Sabas near the Dead Sea where Coptic monks 
came to study. Here, they were probably acquaint¬ 
ed with the form known as kanon (Greek: koividv), 
which, in Coptic usage, became a hymn with 
strophes of five lines, distinguished by a refrain of 
two lines. A Coptic melody type bears its name 
(Arabic: lahn qamm). 

After the Arab Conquest (642/643) 

When the Arabs entered Egypt, they brought a 
new religion and language, but this made no 
change in the Coptic rituals. Coptic still remained 
in general use among the Christians even as late as 
the reign of Patriarch ZACHARIAS (1004-1032) and 
though the Gospels and other church books had 
been put into Arabic under the rule of Patriarch 
philotheus (979-1003), Cyril II continued to con¬ 
duct the Divine Liturgy entirely in Coptic. Manu¬ 
scripts dating from the seventh through the nine¬ 
teenth centuries show that the texts of the ancient 
hymns—the Theotokia, Psalis, turuhat, and so on 
(see Description of the Coipus, above)—were kept 
in Greek, Greco-Coptic, and Coptic with little or no 
alteration. It seems logical to assume that the music 
also remained essentially intact. As has been indi¬ 
cated above, even after Arabic was introduced into 
parts of the rites for those who no longer under¬ 
stood Coptic, this did not seem to change the basic 
elements of the music (rhythms and melodic lines) 



(see Melody, Its Relation to Different Languages, 

Coptic manuscripts, probably dating from the 
tenth or eleventh centuries (Rylands Library at 
Manchester; Insinger Collection, Leiden Museum of 
Antiquities) contain unusual signs as yet unde¬ 
ciphered. Some scholars have tentatively suggested 
that they may be a sort of ckphonetic notation (a 
system of symbols placed above the syllables in a 
text) that fell into disuse. At the mount SINAI MONAS¬ 
TERY OF SAINT CATHERINE, many ancient manuscripts 
of hymn and psalm texts have been discovered. 
None is in Coptic, but there are several in Arabic, 
with the earliest dating from 977. A study of these 
Arabic manuscripts could be very useful, for al¬ 
though Saint Catherine's is Greek Orthodox, it has a 
complicated history connected to Egypt yet to be 
fully elucidated. 

During the Middle Ages, three authors described 
the rites and musical practices of the church. The 
first, Ishaq al-Mu’taman Abu IBN Al/ASsAL (thir¬ 
teenth century), devoted a chapter from his Kitdb 
majmCt u$Cl al-dIn (The Foundations of Religion) to 
a discussion about the growth of music in the 
church, citing Scripture and historical events (this 
chapter has been edited and translated by Georg 
GRAF as "Der kirchliche Gesang nacli Abu IshAq . . . 
ibn al-’Ass&l," Vocal Church Music According to 
Abu Ishaq . . . ). The second, Yuhanna ibn Abi 
ZakariyyA ibn sibA' (late thirteenth century) detailed 
contemporary usages of liturgical music in his 
opus, A/-JAWHARAH al-nafIsah // 'Ulfini al-Kanisah 
(The Precious Essence . . . , ed. and trans. Jean 
P6ricr as La Perle pride use). The third author, 
Shams al-Ri’asah Abu al-Barakat ibn kaiiar (early 
fourteenth century), penned misbAh alzulmah fi 
Id&h al-Khidmah (The Lamp of Darkness, ed. and 
trans. Louis villecourt as La Lampe des tenebres), 
in which he listed and specified the use of the many 
melodies (Arabic: alhein, see Description of the Cor¬ 
pus and Present Musical Practice, above) known to 
the church in Egypt. Although he reported certain 
local variations in the order and choice of alhan, 
the names of the songs and practices he discussed 
are virtually the same today. 

These three authors also outlined the Coptic 
schema of the oktoechos, which had been develop¬ 
ing for many centuries in Egypt, Syria, and Byzanti¬ 
um. A term of several meanings in the early 
church, oktoechos eventually came to refer to a 
group of eight adaptable melody-types ( echoi) used 
in the Byzantine church in a cycle of eight Sundays 
to correspond with an eight-week liturgical cycle. 
Their invention is attributed to Saint John Dama¬ 

scene (d. 754), but his contribution was probably 
one of organization since they were already in exis¬ 
tence long before his time. His classification of the 
echoi into four authentic {xvpioi, kurioi, i.e., 
"lords”), to be paired with four plagal ( 7 rAayos, 
plagos, "side," or perhaps plax, "flat and 

broad"), was likely based on some symbolic princi¬ 
ple rather than any purely musical reason. 

The expression oktoechos first appeared in the 
Plerophoria by John of Mayuma (c. 515) in an anec¬ 
dote indicating that this word referred both to a 
kind of prayerbook and to a collection of songs 
arranged from a musical standpoint. According to 
E. Werner, the term may originally have derived 
from the Gnostic term Ogdoas, which, as the num¬ 
ber eight, was identified with the creator and the 
essence of music in an apocryphal hymn of Jesus 
that probably originated in Egypt or southern Pales¬ 
tine in the middle of the second century. The philo¬ 
sophic ideas of the Ogdoas, the Gnostic magic vow¬ 
els as they related to the tones of a cosmic octave, 
the four essential elements (air, water, fire, and 
earth), and the four essential qualities (dry, humid, 
hot, and cold)—all indiscriminately mixed with 
more or less biblical concepts, and arising in Egypt 
and southern Palestine during the second and early 
third centuries—further contributed to the forma¬ 
tion of the oktoechos. The alchemist Zosimos of 
Panopolis (now Akhmim) (c. 300) is credited with a 
brief passage about echoi found in a treatise that 
basically concerns alchemy. However, the work is 
likely Byzantine, dating from the late eighth or ear¬ 
ly ninth century. Herein, Pseudo-Zosimos estab¬ 
lished a system of echoi based on six series of four 
elements (represented by the Greek symbols for the 
numbers 1 to 4) to produce twenty-four entities that 
were to serve as the foundation for the composition 
of all the hymns and other religious melodies. 

In the Byzantine and Syrian churches, the okto¬ 
echos was systematized only in the eleventh century. 
Two centuries later, Ibn al-’Assal, following this 
lead, quoted the priest Ya’qub al-Maridanl, who 
stated that the sense of hearing has eight levels of 
feeling (temperaments), and that therefore songs 
must be based on eight kinds of echoi (Arabic: 
ulhan)\ these he then classified and described. In 
the early fourteenth century, Abu al-BarakAt em¬ 
braced this same classification and described its 
usage in Egypt as follows: The first (Hparroc) and 
fifth ( 1 lAAHHpoooy, planerothou, or n\AHnpci>Toy, 
planprotou) echoi excite joy, and are used for 
pure and glorious feasts; their temperament is hot 
and humid. The second (TGyTGpoc, teuteros) and 
sixth (HXXNTeyTGpoc, planteuteros) humble us, and 

1736 MUSIC, COPTIC: Cantors, Their Role and Musical Training 

are used for times of humility and humiliation like 
Holy Week; their temperament is cold and humid. 
The third (Tpiroc, tritos) and seventh (sxpic, baris, 
from Greek fiapv s, barus, "heavy"), make us sad, 
and are therefore most frequently used for fun¬ 
erals and burials; their temperament is hot and 
dry. The fourth (TerApTOC, tetartos) and eighth 
(uxxMTGTpxToy, plantetratou) encourage bravery, 
lift the heart, and are meant to encourage the lis¬ 
teners, not put fear into their souls; their tempera¬ 
ment is cold and dry. 

In all other descriptions of the Coptic ulhtin and 
their usage, Abu al-Barakat made no further refer¬ 
ence to these eight echoi, nor are they known or 
mentioned elsewhere in Coptic church music. 
Thus, whether the schema of the okioechos was 
merely theoretical or actually put into practice by 
Coptic musicians is an open question. 

Regarding a possible Arabic influence on Coptic 
music over the years, it has been observed that 
there are some traces of similarity between Coptic 
incantillation and Qur’an chanting. However, at this 
writing, it would be impossible to say who bor¬ 
rowed and who lent. The Arabs may have had some 
effect on the singing style of certain individuals, but 
for the traditional manner of singing transmitted by 
the cantors as a whole, it would be diflicult to 
pinpoint anything as specifically Arabic. The ulti¬ 
mate provenance of the improvisational style heard 
in both Coptic and Arabic cantillation, as well as in 
other Middle Eastern musical systems, is unknown 
at present. This entire problem is yet awaiting 
much-needed comparative study. 

In conclusion, some remarks about authors 
should be made. Although Coptic artists, compos¬ 
ers, and writers have largely remained anonymous 
by tradition, the authors of a few hymns have been 
identified. Mention has been made of how some left 
their names in the Psalis (see Description of the 
Corpus, above). Other ascriptions have been noted 
in their historical context. In the currently used 
al-Absalmudiyyah al-Kiyahkiyyah (see Description of 
the Coipus, above), the following are some of the 
more prominent authors named as having contrib¬ 
uted hymns to the collection, some more prolifical- 
ly than others: for Psalis Mu'allim Yu’annis (six 
Coptic paraphrases), Sarkis (nine Greek para¬ 
phrases), and Nicodemus (nine Coptic Psalis); for 
mada'ih and paraphrases in Arabic 'Abd al-MasIh 
al-Masu'dl from DAYR almuharrao. al-Baramudah of 
BahnasA, and Fadl Allah al-Ibyari; and for hymns 
in Arabic with frequent Coptic terms and phrases 
interpolated, Patriarch mark viii (1796-1809), 

Mu'allim Ghubriyal of Qay, Abu Sa'd al-Abutljl, and 
Jirjis al-ShinrawI. 

Ragheb Mofiaii 
Marian Robf.rtson 
Martha Roy 

Cantors, Their Role and Musical 


Because members of the clergy were not equally 
talented as singers, it became and has remained the 
tradition to entrust performance of the music to 
a professional cantor (Arabic: 'art/, "one who 
knows," or mu'allim, "teacher"), who is employed 
and trained by the church to be responsible for the 
correct delivery of the hymns and responses in all 
the services. He is usually blind, due to the popular 
belief dating from ancient times that the sensitivity 
of eyesight was transferred from the eyes of a blind 
person to his ears, and that such transference en¬ 
hanced musical skills. He is expected to be at the 
church to perform and sing all the rites at their 
proper times and is thereby assured his living. 

The cantor is not an ordained member of the 
clerical orders, but in times past, a prayer used to 
be said for him as the appointed singer in the 
church. This prayer, entitled A Prayer Over One 
Who Shall Be Made a Singer (Coptic: oytiyxe 6X6N 
oyxi eyNXXN Mtx\Ma»A.oc, oueukhe ejen ouai 
cunaaif (c)mpsalmodos), is as follows: 

Master, Lord God, the Almighty, . . . This Thy ser¬ 
vant, who stands before Thee and hath hastened 
to Thy Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, do 
Thou illumine him for rendering sweetly Thy 
holy words, and give grace to him to chant unto 
Thee, with understanding, the spiritual hymns. 

Little is known about the cantors prior to 1850. 
However, at that time, it became apparent that the 
music and texts had often been rendered incorrect¬ 
ly by untrained and/or careless cantors. Patriarch 
cyril iv (1853-1861), concerned about this situa¬ 
tion, made the training of cantors a matter of prime 
importance to the church. He felt that a specialist, 
trained and highly skilled in singing the rituals, 
could help solve the problem, for such a profession¬ 
al could then teach others and thus be responsible 
for the improvement of the music. With this in 
mind, the pope found a blind young man who was 
teaching in the school adjacent to the patriarchal 
Church of Saint Mark, and perceiving him to be 
gifted with a good voice and keen ear, he appointed 

MUSIC, COPTIC: Cantors, Their Role and Musical Training 


him to be teacher of melodies. Later, this teacher 
was ordained a deacon, Abuna Takla by name. 

As part of his task, Abuna Takla corrected the 
pronunciation of the language, demanding proper 
enunciation and delivery of the hymns. In 1859, at 
the order of Pope Cyril IV. he published the first 
edition of the book The Services of the Deacon (see 
Description of the Corpus, above), with the help of 
Deacon iryAn jikjis muftAi.i, teacher of Coptic in the 
Patriarchal College. Also at the direction of the 
pope, Abuna Takla included therein four Greek 
hymns, which he translated into Coptic, and which 
are sung yet today for the feasts of the Nativity and 
Resurrection. They have kept their Greek melodies 
and are designated as Yunani (Greek). Further, 
Abuna Takla sang Coptic songs of his own composi¬ 
tion in the homes of outstanding families, and be¬ 
cause of a patriotic song that he composed and 
presented to the Khedive, he was granted the title 
of Bey. 

Abuna Takla had seven students to whom he 
transmitted his knowledge and skills. Among these 
were two cantors, Abuna Murqus of Matay, and 
Mu'allim Armanyus. 

In the generation following, one of their students 
was the blind cantor Mu'allim MlKHA'Il. jirjis al- 
BatanunI, who was blessed with an excellent, very 
clear voice and a prodigious memory. As a youth, 
he was sent to visit churches in many towns of 
Egypt to learn and collect hymns. A faithful teacher 
at the Institute of Saint Didymus, he was the cantor 
chosen by Ragheb Moftah to sing to the English 
musicologist, Ernest Newlandsmith, who, from 
1928 to 1936, notated the complete Liturgy of Saint 
Basil and many hymns reserved for Advent and 
Lent (see Transcriptions in Western Notation, be¬ 
low). Thereby, Mu'allim Mikha’il became the means 
through which many of the great treasures of Cop¬ 
tic hymnology have been preserved in writing. He 
died in 1957, over seventy-five years old. 

Cantors and deacons of today who were taught by 
Mu'allim Mikha’il include Mu'allim Tawfiq Yussuf 
of the Monastery dayr al-muharraq, Mu'allim Sadiq 
AttallSh, Dr. Yussuf Mansur, and many others in the 
churches of Cairo and the provinces. These men 
are acknowledged today as the experts for the litur¬ 
gical services and correct rendering of hymns. They 
have also assisted in the recordings of the liturgies 
and offices now being made by Ragheb Moftah. 

In 1893, at Mahmashah, Cairo, Patriarch CYRIL V 
(1874-1927) opened the Theological Seminary, of 
which one branch was the Saint Didymus Institute 
for the Blind. It was only natural for (he blind 

Mu'allim Mikha’il. Courtesy Egyptian Antiquities Or¬ 
ganization. Photo by II. Hickniann. 

cantors to come here for their training. This insti¬ 
tute is now located in Shu bra, under the direction 
of Mu'allim Faraj. 

Today, the higher institute of Coptic studies has 
a music department where the music of the church 
rites is also taught. Ragheb Moftah has headed this 
department since its beginning in 1954 and has 
been responsible for the training of those wishing 
to master the myriad hymns and melodies neces¬ 
sary to Coptic ritual. Mr. Moftah has also been in 
charge of the teaching of the hymns and responses 
to the studenLs in the Coptic Clerical College adja¬ 
cent to the Institute. These latter students arc not 
cantors, but rather will become priests. Each sum¬ 
mer, Mr. Moftah takes a group of talented pupils to 
summer camp in Alexandria for additional training. 
Here, they review what they have been taught, cor¬ 
rect their intoning and language, and study new 
repertoire. In all this work, Mr. Moftah is assisted 

1738 MUSIC, COPTIC: Musical Instruments 

by priests having good ears and strong voices. All 
instruction is done by rote, with the students re¬ 
peating the melodies until they become note per¬ 
fect. Thereby, music, which perhaps was in danger 
of being lost and forgotten, is now being preserved 
for a new generation. 

Ragheb Moftah 
Martha Roy 

Musical Instruments 

When Christianity was established in Egypt, many 
musical instruments of diverse forms and origins 
were known. However, they were, in the main, 
frowned upon by the church and the early fathers 
wrote strict injunctions forbidding their use. Clem¬ 
ent of Alexandria (c. 150-220) inveighed against 
playing the psaltery, the trumpet, the timbrel or 
tympanon, and the pipe. However, he seems to 
have tolerated the lyra and kithara, because of King 
David's alleged use of them. Origcn (c. 185-254) 
attributed definite spiritual qualities to the sound of 
certain instruments, with the trumpet representing 
the power of God’s word, the tympanon depicting 
the destruction of lust, and the cymbals expressing 
the eager soul enamored of Christ. Saint ATHANASIUS 
I (326-373) also gave instruments symbolic mean¬ 
ings (Reese, pp. 61-62). For his part, Saint cyrii. I 
(412-444) characterized a psalm as "a musical ut¬ 
terance for which the instrument is played rhythmi¬ 
cally according to harmonic notes" (Werner, 1959, 
p. 318), thereby recalling the Greek definition of 
this ancient form as a song sung to the accompani¬ 
ment of a harp, or kithara, or lyra. 

Three Arabic manuscripts from Saint Catherine’s 
Monastery (no. 30, 977; no. 21, eleventh century; 
no. 22, twelfth century) quote hymn and Psalm 

Hand cymbals. Courtesy Coptic Museum, Cairo. 

texts that name many different instruments suitable 
for praising the Lord: cymbals ( sanj), small drum 
(dafl ), two different chordophones, whose sound is 
produced by a vibrating string, either bowed or 
plucked ( awtar and ma'azif), drums (tuhiil), and rat¬ 
tles ( salasil ), all of which indicate the variety of 
instruments known at this time (Atiya, 1970, pp. 77, 
21 and 25). 

Today, two percussion instruments are used in 
the rites of many of the Coptic churches: the small 
hand cymbals (Arabic: sanj, or colloquially sajjat), 
and the metal triangle (Arabic: muthallath, or collo¬ 
quially turianta), each played by one of the deacons 
and/or the cantor. Providing a rhythmic accompa¬ 
niment to specified hymns and responses sung by 
the choir and/or congregation, they signal the con¬ 
gregation to participate and unify the singing. 

The hand cymbals are mentioned in both the Old 
and New Testaments (Ps. 150; I Cor. 13:1), which 
might be considered as a sanction for their use in 
the Coptic services. They were probably brought 
into Egypt from the Near East, but when they were 
introduced into the church is as yet unknown. They 
are a pair of slightly concave metal disks (usually 
silver) about 7 inches (18 cm) in diameter, with a 
cupped center 1 V* inch (3 cm) in depth. A hole in 
the center of each disk permits the passage of a 
string held in place by a wooden pin that acts as a 
handle for manipulating the cymbals. Throughout 
the hymn which they accompany, two movements 
of the cymbals characterize the beat: a diagonal 
sliding of the two disks against each other, and a 
circular motion of the two rims alternately against 
each other. Both movements produce a varied 
depth in tone. A trill of the rims with a final clap 
completes the rendition of the hymn. 

The Arabic word daff is a controversial term pop¬ 
ularly used by some Copts to refer either to the 
cymbals or sometimes to the triangle, but this is a 
misnomer since the dafl is a membranophone con¬ 
structed of a circular wooden frame over one side 
of which a fish or goat skin is stretched taut; such 
instruments are considered unsuitable for use in 
church services. 

The Arabic word naqus (pi. nawaqis) is the only 
term mentioned in the rubrics of the liturgical 
books (notably the Khidmat al-Shantmas; see De¬ 
scription of the Corpus, and Melody, Its Relation to 
Different Languages, above) to indicate the need for 
instrumental accompaniment. An ancient kind of 
bell, sounded by striking the outside with a rod, it 
gradually disappeared over the centuries from Cop¬ 
tic ceremonies and is not generally known today. It 

MUSIC, COPTIC: Musical Instruments 


came into the early church perhaps via Alexandria, 
where it replaced the small wooden clappers used 
in antiquity as an instrument to signal the begin¬ 
ning of worship services. Writing in the fourteenth 
century, Abu al-Barakat (see Description of the Cor¬ 
pus, and History, above) referred to the naqiis in 
his description of the rite of consecration of the 
altar in the church: "The bishop proceeds around 
the altar and beats the naqiis three times, after 
which the ministers holding many nawdqis strike 
them.” However, the exact form of the naqiis men¬ 
tioned by Abu al-Barakat is a matter of conjecture, 
for it is not known when the bell fell into disuse 
among the Copts (see the discussion of the bell 
below). In the seventeenth century. J. Vansleb did 
note that small bells and ebony bars were used in 
Coptic services. 

The metal triangle is suspended by a string held 
in the left hand, and is struck on two or three of its 
sides by a small metal rod held in the right hand. It 
is never mentioned in the rubrics, either in Coptic 
or Arabic, but when accompaniment by the ndqiis 
is specified, the triangle automatically joins in. Its 
light tinkling beats might be described as resem¬ 
bling the light jangling of the ancient sistrum (see 

When the hand cymbals and triangle are played 
simultaneously, intricate rhythmic patterns emerge, 
and as these instruments accompany the varied me¬ 
ters of the vocal music, a complex and quite dis¬ 
tinct polyrhythm is produced. 

Although the liturgical books definitely specify 
the occasions, hymns, and responses requiring in¬ 
strumental accompaniment, the use of instruments 
is somewhat haphazard, for those playing instru¬ 
ments do not always follow directions and often 
play when no instruments are called for in the ru¬ 

Among the hymns rubricated for instruments are, 
in the Morning Offering of Incense, "We worship 
the Father. . ." (Coptic: TCNoyaxvT iitywr . . . , ten- 
ouosht (e)m(e)phiot. . . ), and "O Come, let us 
worship .. ." (Coptic: xmujini M^peNoyaxpT . . . 
amoini marenouosht); in the Divine Liturgy the 
Hymn of the Aspasmos (variable); in the Evening 
Offering of Incense, the people's response to the 
Kyrie; on Good Friday, the Kyrie of the Sixth and 
Twelfth Hours; in the Tasbihah of the Saturday of 
Joy, the Psali of Hos One; during the fe;»st of the 
Resurrection, the xepe . . . (shore . . . ), after the 
Psali of Hos One; and the quatrains of the Tasbihah, 
when it is performed. 

Many instruments known in pharaonic F ; .gypt also 

existed among the Copts. The following information 
about them is based mainly on research published 
by Hans Hickmann. 


1. Clapper. A kind of castanet, the clapper con¬ 
sists of two small boards that strike against a third, 
central board which also forms the handle. Al¬ 
though nothing can be affirmed as to its use in the 
early church, many clappers dating from the third 
to sixth centuries have been conserved. These have 
been found at Saqqara (dayr apa jeremiah), the 
Fayyum, and elsewhere in Egypt. 

2. Castanet. Made of concave shells of ivory or 
hard wood which are struck one against the other, 
the castanet existed in ancient Egypt, but it proba¬ 
bly took its definitive form only in the second cen¬ 
tury A.D. In the Coptic Museum in Old Cairo there 

Clappers. Courtesy Ellen Hickmann. Photo byH. Hick- 

1740 MUSIC, COPTIC: Musical Instruments 

are a number of them dating from the Coptic era, 
found at Akhrnlm and Elephantine. It is thought 
that they descended from the hand-shaped clappers 
of pharaonic times. 

3. Crotalum. Composed of two small cymbals 
attached to the ends of a son of elastic fork that 
strike against each other when the fork is shaken, 
the crotalum was invented by Egyptian musicians 
of the Lower Epoch. Examples dating from the Cop¬ 
tic Epoch have been found at Thebes. 

4. Sistrum. Consisting of bars fitted loosely into 
a metal frame that rattle when the handle is shaken, 
the sistrum was the instrument sacred to Hathor 
and other goddesses such as Isis and Bastet. From 
Egypt it spread to Greece, Rome, and wherever else 
the cults of these Egyptian goddesses penetrated. In 
Western Europe, Isidor of Seville (560-636) men¬ 
tioned its use {Sententiae de mu sic a), as did 
Pseudo-Odo (Odo of Cluny, 879-942). According to 
Hickmann, the sistrum was also used by the Copts 
for many centuries. 

Crotalum, sistrum, and flute (from left to right). 
Courtesy Coptic Museum, Cairo. 

5. Dell. Not found in Egypt until the Late King¬ 
dom, most of the bells recovered from ancient 
times stem from the third to sixth centuries A.D. 
Ancient Coptic bells, which may be decorated with 
the sign of the cross, have been found mostly in the 
Fayyum or other centers of early Coplic life. Hick¬ 
mann felt that the use of Coptic bells might be the 
origin for the sounding of bells during the Roman 
Catholic mass, and that these instruments appeared 
in Rome following the cult of Saint Antony. 


1. Flute. The long flute, which is held vertically 
when played, is the most ancient wind instrument 
of F.gypt, having existed in prehistoric times. Exam¬ 
ples made of bone dating from the third to sixth 
centuries A.D. have been found at Saqqara (near 
Dayr Apa Jeremiah). Known in Arabic as the ndy, 
its descendant is still heard today in Egyptian folk 

2. Clarinet. Like the flute, the Egyptian clarinet 
descends from very ancient times. The double clari¬ 
net, which has two pipes linked together, dates 
from the Fifth Dynasty. Similar instruments dating 
from the Coptic era have been found at Saqqara 
(near Dayr Apa Jeremiah). These are the prototype 
for the modern Egyptian zummarah. 

3. Hydraulis. According to Athenaius, the hy- 
draulis (water organ) was invented by Ctesibus of 
Alexandria, surnamed “the Egyptian" (c. 246 u.c.). 
It was described first by Philo of Alexandria (second 
century D.C.), and later, in more detail, by Hero of 
Alexandria (c. 150 a.d.) and Vitruvius. A favorite 
instrument at gladiatorial shows, it became very 
popular with the Romans. Although the organ later 
became the main instrument for the rites of the 
Latin church, it has never been accepted in the 
Coptic church. 


1. Harp. The harp is probably of Egyptian ori¬ 
gin, and during its long history, it has assumed 
many forms which have been amply described else¬ 
where. The Copts did not use the harp in sacred 
services, but it might have been popular among the 
people. O'Curry maintained that the Egyptian harp 
may have served as the prototype for the Irish harp 
(see History, above), which spread from Ireland 
into Italy. 

2. Lute. A lute found at Dayr Apa Jeremiah, dat¬ 
ing probably from the seventh or eighth century, is 

MUSIC, COPTIC: Musicologists 


important because it represents a transition from 
the long lutes of antiquity (both Egyptian and Asiat¬ 
ic) and the short lutes of Arabic, Iranian, and Indi¬ 
an origin (Arabic: al-'ud). Described by many schol¬ 
ars, it is characterized by two crosccnt-shaped 
notches, that is, it is doublement echancre. There 
are examples in the Coptic Museum in Old Cairo 
and in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New 
York. Hickmann suggested that it might be the fore¬ 
runner of the guitar, especially the guitarro morisco. 
Further, he felt that such lutes indicate the role 
Egypt played in musical history between antiquity 
and the Middle Ages, a role not confined to the 
development of the liturgy, but also important in 
the history of musical instruments (see mi-talwork. 

Raghl-d Moitaii 
Marian Rohf.rtson 
Martha Roy 


Borsai, Ilona (1925-1982) 

After graduating from the University of Kolozsvar, 
in her native city of Cluj, Rumania, qualified to 
teach Greek and French languages, Ilona Borsai 
attended the Academy of Music in Budapest, Hun¬ 
gary, where she received the Diploma of Music Ed¬ 
ucation. Completing further studies in the field of 
musicology under Bence Szalolcsi, she began to 
work in research in folk music under the direction 
of Zoltan Kodaly at the Academy of Science. Having 
retired in 1978, she died in Budapest on July 8, 

Her research led into musicological studies of 
Egyptian music, pharaonic, folk, and Coptic. During 
three visits to Egypt, she made many recordings of 
folk and Coptic music in 1967-1968 to collect re¬ 
cordings for transcriptions and analyses, in 1969 to 
attend the Second Conference of Arab Music where 
she presented a paper, and in 1970 to follow up on 
the studies and recordings of Coptic music. As a 
result of these visits she produced a number of 
transcriptions in collaboration with Margit T6th 
and publications describing the results ol her re¬ 
search (see bibliography). 

She was a member of the Coptic Archeological So¬ 
ciety, the Hungarian Ethnolographical Society, the 
Association of Hungarian Musicians, the Hungarian 
Society of Studies of Antiquities, the International 
Association of Hungarian Studies, the Hungarian 

Coptic lute. Courtesy Coptic Museum, Cairo. 

Kodaly Society, and the International Association of 
Coptic Studies. 

Her pioneering research into the details of the 
historical, analytical, and liturgical significance of 
Coptic music opened the field of Coptic musicology 
and defined its direction. Her contribution has had 
an impact not only on Coptic studies but also on all 
research concerning music whose historical roots 
have been transmitted through the centuries by oral 

Martha Roy 

Hickmann, Hans (1908-1968) 

Hickmann, a German musicologist, was known 
primarily as an authority on the musical instru¬ 
ments of ancient Egypt. He devoted much study to 
the music of the Coptic church, which he felt was a 
living link between the past and the present (for 
more details of his research into the Coptic musical 
tradition, see Oral Tradition, History, and Musical 
Instruments, above, and Transcriptions in Western 
Notation, below). 

Born 19 May, 1908, in Rosslau bei Dessau, Ger¬ 
many, he received his early education in Halle and 
continued his studies in musicology at the Universi¬ 
ty of Berlin under the direction of some of the most 

1742 MUSIC, COPTIC: Transcriptions in Western Notation 

distinguished scholars of the time, including Erich 
M. von Hornbostel and Curt Sachs. After his gradu¬ 
ation in 1934, he studied at the Staalliche Akademie 
fur Kirchen- und Schulmusik (Berlin-Charlot- 
tenberg) and the Berliner Hochschule fur Musik. 
His interest in Eastern music was first aroused by a 
field trip to the Siwa Oasis (1932-1933), sponsored 
by the Berliner Phonogrammarchiv. In 1933, he 
settled in Cairo, and from here he conducted exten¬ 
sive investigations into the music of Egypt for more 
than two decades. 

From 1949 to 1952, he lectured in many coun¬ 
tries of Western Europe. In 1957 he left Egypt be¬ 
cause of political conditions and relumed to Ger¬ 
many to head the department of Ethnomusicology 
at the University of Hamburg (see Transcriptions in 
Western Notation, below). In 1958, as the new di¬ 
rector of the Musikhistorisches Studio (Archiv- 
Produktion) of the Deutsche Gramniophon Gcsell- 
schaft in Hamburg, he produced many recordings 
of ancient music, all of great scholarship and au¬ 
thenticity. He died 4 September 1968, in Blandford 
Forum, Dorset, England. 

His published works cover more than three dec¬ 
ades (1934-1968, plus articles published posthu¬ 
mously). A comprehensive bibliography, comprising 
some 198 entries, is listed in the Journal of the 
Society of Ethnomusicology, vol. IX, no. 1 (January 
1965), pp. 45-53, and vol. XII, no. 2 (May 1969), 
pp. 317-19. 

Marian Robertson 

Newlandsinith, Ernest (1875-? [after 1936]) 

British violinist, composer, and writer, best 
known for his extensive transcriptions of Coptic li¬ 
turgical music. 

The son of a clergyman, he was born 10 April, 
1875. Having shown a talent for music, he entered 
the Royal Academy of Music in 1893, from which 
he graduated with distinction in 1899, earning the 
A.R.A.M. (Associate of Royal Academy of Music). 
Disillusioned as a music teacher and concert violin¬ 
ist, he turned his back on music as a profession 
(1908) and became a "pilgrim” or "minstrel friar." 
Henceforth, he traveled through the countryside 
presenting musical religious services and living by 
the generosity of others. 

In 1926 he undertook a musical pilgrimage to the 
Holy Land. En route, he stopped at Cairo where he 
met Ragheb Mol'tah (sec Cantors, above), who ar¬ 
ranged for him to compile a book of liturgical mu¬ 
sic of the ancient Coptic church. Newlandsmith 
continued his journey to the Holy Land (Mount 

Carmel), but soon returned to Cairo. Here, as the 
guest of Mr. Moftah, he lived in a houseboat on the 
Nile, notating the music as chanters—among them 
the great master chanter Mu'allim MIKMA'lL JlRJis 
(see Cantors, above)—sang their time-honored mel¬ 
odics hour after hour, day after day (1926-1931). 
He also spent some time at Abu al-Shuquq working 
with Mr. Moftah on the transcriptions (1929). 

The complete project lasted about ten years 
(1926-1936), and during this time, Newlandsmith 
transcribed some sixteen folio volumes of music, 
including the Liturgy of Saint Basil (vol. 1), numer¬ 
ous other special songs for the various feasts and 
fasts, and special songs reserved for high church 

Impressed by the dignity and beauty of this mu¬ 
sic, Newlandsmith used certain melodies in his own 
violin compositions, and upon return trips to En¬ 
gland (1928, 1931), he played these works as part of 
his music services. He also gave enthusiastic lec¬ 
tures about the antiquity of the Coptic musical tra¬ 

During his life Newlandsmith founded various 
musical-religious societies, the most significant be¬ 
ing "The New Life Movement." A prolific writer, he 
penned several pamphlets and books wherein he 
expounded his ideas about music. 

A bibliography of his early musical compositions 
is listed in the Universal Handbuch der Musiklitera- 
tur aller Zeilen und Volker (Vienna, n. d.), vol. 1, pt. 
1, p. 124. He based his later works on Coptic melo¬ 
dies, of which two, dating from 1929, remain signif¬ 
icant: his Oriental Suite for violin and piano, and 
the Carmelite Rhapsody for solo violin. 

Marian Robertson 

Transcriptions in Western Notation 

Although there may be some evidences of a nota¬ 
tion system using dots and a primitive ekphonetic 
notation for Coptic music, the Copts have preserved 
their music over the centuries essentially by means 
of an oral tradition (see Oral Tradition, above). 
Only in the nineteenth century did scholars begin 
to transcribe Coptic melodies using the notation 
system established for Western music. Guillaume 
Andre Villoteau, a French scholar who was pail of 
Napoleon's expedition to Egypt, was the first to at¬ 
tempt such a transcription when he devoted some 
five pages of his Description de I'Egypte (1809) to an 
Alleluia from the Divine Liturgy. Later, near the 
end of the nineteenth century, other transcriptions 

MUSIC, COPTIC: Transcriptions in Western Notation 


were made by Jules Blin ( Chants liturgiques copies, 
1888) and Louis Badet {Chants liturgiques des 
Coptes, 1899). Whereas Blin's transcriptions are un¬ 
reliable, those of Badet are fairly accurate as to the 
general scheme of the melodies. 

In the twentieth century, Kamil Ibrahim Ghubri¬ 
yal published a small volume of transcriptions of 
hymns and responsoria, Al-TawqVat al-Musiqiyyah 
H-MaraddQt al-Kanisah al-Murqusiyyah (1916). Un¬ 
like previous transcribers, Ghubriyal, a lieutenant 
in the Egyptian army, was a Copt, and deeply 
steeped in the musical tradition of his church. He 
designed his transcriptions for Coptic youih, and in 
an effort to make them more attractive to his audi¬ 
ence, he adapted them for piano, adding a rhythmic 
accompaniment (no harmony, notes at the octave 
only) and making certain changes in the pitch and 
rhythm of the vocal melodies. Notwithstanding 
such obvious alterations, the basic melodic line was 
kept intact, and Ghubriyal is to be recognized for 
his pioneering efforts as a Copt seeking to notate 
the music of his people. 

Nearly one generation later, one of the most am¬ 
bitious efforts in this regard was undertaken by the 
English musicologist Ernest Ncwlandsmith (see Mu¬ 
sicologists, above), who came to Egypt at the invita¬ 
tion and sponsorship of Ragheb Moftah for the ex¬ 
press purpose of transcribing the music of the 
Coptic services. From 1926 to 1936 he compiled, 
from listening to the best Coptic cantors, some six¬ 
teen folio volumes of music, which include the en¬ 
tire Liturgy of Saint Basil, and other important 
hymns, responsoria, and so on, reserved for special 
feasts (vol. 1 alone comprises more than 100 
pages). Because he felt that the abundant ornamen¬ 
tation in Coptic music was primarily "Arabic de¬ 
bris," Ncwlandsmith tended to ignore most of the 
embellishments. Thus, his transcriptions depict sim¬ 
ple melodic lines, adapted to the rhythms and key 
signatures of the West. Nevertheless, for that pail of 
Coptic music which is devoid of embellishment, 
these transcriptions compare favorably with the 
work of recent scholars, and his vast corpus of 
notation offers much material for comparative 
study and analysis. 

All the foregoing transcribers, not having the ad¬ 
vantage of recording equipment, had no way to 
compare what they heard with what they had notat¬ 
ed. Hence, many intricacies of rhythm and intona¬ 
tion were neither perceived nor indicated accurate¬ 
ly. Fortunately, when, in the 1950s, interested 
musicologists began to work with tapes, they were 
able to produce transcriptions of much greater de¬ 
tail and accuracy. Among these scholars were Hans 

Hickmann and Rene Menard, who, working both 
separately and together, transcribed a few short 
pieces. Menard, by slowing the tape, was able to 
hear, and thus notate, the embellishments with 
more exactitude than had been possible before. In 
so doing, he observed that the Western notation 
system cannot really indicate all the nuances of 
rhythm and expression inherent in Coptic music, 
and suggested that certain ancient signs used in 
notating Gregorian chant might be useful. 

Following directives of Hickmann, scholars in the 
Ethnomusicology Laboratory at the University of 
Hamburg, employing the most modern acoustical 
equipment which allowed them to record the exact 
oscillations of the sound waves, notated the compli¬ 
cated variances of intonation in Coptic music to the 
nearest quarter-tone. 

In 1967, Ilona Borsai (see Musicologists, above) 
went to Egypt to collect materials for study and 
analysis. During her short span of ethnomusicolog- 
ical studies, she was able to publish some seventeen 
articles containing transcriptions and observations 
on facets of Coptic music never before touched 

In 1969, Margit Toth, also of Hungary, came to 
Cairo to study Coptic music. Working with Ragheb 
Moftah and the recordings he had made, she, like 
Newlandsmith, notated the entire Liturgy of Saint 
Basil. By using the new methods for recording and 
playback, she has completed transcriptions of enor¬ 
mous detail, wherein not only the audible embel¬ 
lishments are transcribed, but also auxiliary tones 
discernable only at a slow tempo. This project will 
enable scholars to make many comparative studies 
and analyses. 

In the late 1970s, Marian Robertson, of the Unit¬ 
ed States, also working with tapes, began transcrib¬ 
ing excerpts from the Liturgy of Saint Basil and 
Holy Week services. Having specialized thus far in 
music sung by the choir, in which the embellish¬ 
ments are somewhat blurred by the individuality of 
each singer, Robertson has not transcribed the or¬ 
namentation with the same detail as Toth. Explana¬ 
tions in accompanying texts serve to describe the 
phenomenon produced by the varying vibratos and 
embellishments of the performers. 

In 1976, Nabfl Kamal Butros, violin teacher in 
the Faculty of Music Education at Helwan Universi¬ 
ty and a member of the Arabic Classical Music En¬ 
semble, completed a master’s thesis, "Coptic Music 
and Its Relation to Pharaonic Music," in which he 
made a comparative transcription and analysis of 
one hymn as sung by several different choirs. 

Although Western notation was not designed for 

1744 MUSIC, COPTIC: Nonliturgical Music 

transcribing Coptic music, it may be the form in 
which this ancient music from the Near East will at 
last be written. By comparing the various transcrip¬ 
tions of dedicated scholars, one may at least 
glimpse the complexity and variety of the Coptic 
musical tradition. 

Ragheb MOFrAII 
Marian Robertson 
Martha Roy 

Nonliturgical Music 

In recent years, strictly nonliturgical songs have 
been developed for use in the Sunday schools. They 
bear the general title alhan, but thirteen, composed 
especially in honor of the Virgin Mary, are designat¬ 
ed taranim (sing, tamimah). Both the alhan and 
tardnlm have texts of praise and worship, strophic 
in form. Sung antiphonally or in unison by both 
men and women, they are monophonic. Quite dis¬ 
tinct in style from both Arabic chanting of the Qur¬ 
’an and Coptic liturgical melody, they betray much 
Western influence, for example, the singing is al¬ 
ways accompanied by the violin, piano, and/or or¬ 
gan; this instrumental accompaniment has rudi¬ 
mentary harmony; and some songs borrow phrases 
from well-known Western melodies such as Han¬ 
del's "Joy to the World" and Mendelssohn's "Hark! 
The Herald Angels Sing." They may be described as 
light-hearted, charming, and attractive to youth. 
However, Coptic purists decry their existence and 
maintain that they have neither the dignity nor the 
spirituality of the ancient liturgical tradition. 

Marian Robertson 



Alhan Muhibbah and Taranim wa Muda'ih lil- 
Sayyidah ab'Adhra. Twelve records of nonliturgi- 
cai music made in Cairo (8-968053-8-968065). In 
the Audio-Visual Department. Marriott Library, 
University of Utah. 

Alhan Special to Popes and Bishops, ed. Ragheb 
Moftah. Recorded at the Higher Institute of Cop¬ 
tic Studies. Cairo, 1983. 

Catalogue d’enregistrements de la musique folklori- 
que egyptienne, ed. H. Hickmann and Charles 
Gr6goire due de Mecklembourg. Strasbourg and 
Baden-Baden, 1958. 

The Complete Liturgy of St. Basil, ed. Ragheb 
Moftah. Recorded at the Higher Institute of Cop¬ 
tic Studies. Cairo, 1965. 

The Coptic Liturgy of St. Gregory, ed. Ragheb 
Moftah. Recorded at the Higher Institute of Cop¬ 
tic Studies. Cairo, 1984. 

The Coptic Marriage Sendee, ed. Ragheb Moftah. 
Recorded at the Higher Institute of Coptic Stud¬ 
ies. Cairo, 1984. 

Coptic Music. Recorded in the Coptic Cathedral of 
Saint Mark, with notes by Aziz S. Atiya. Folkways 
Records. FR 8960. New York, 1960. 

Doxologies and Their Hymns for the Virgin Mary and 
the Saints, ed. Ragheb Moftah. Recorded at the 
Higher Institute of Coptic Studies. Cairo, 1984. 

The Holy Week Sendees, ed. Ragheb Moftah. Re¬ 
corded at the Higher Institute of Coptic Studies. 
Cairo, 1972. 

The Liturgy of St. Basil, sung by Mu’allim Sadie/, ed. 
Ragheb Moftah. Recorded at the Higher Institute 
of Coptic Studies. Cairo, 1968. 

The Order of livening Prayers (Taqs Tasbihat ' Ashiy • 
yah), ed. Ragheb Moftah. Recorded at the Higher 
Institute of Coptic Studies. Cairo, 1976. 

The Order of Midnight Prayers (Taqs Tasbihat Nisf 
al-Layl), ed. Ragheb Moftah. Recorded at the 
Higher Institute of Coptic Studies. Cairo, 1978. 

The Ritual for the Feast of the Resurrection, ed. 
Ragheb Moftah. Recorded at the Higher Institute 
of Coptic Studies. Cairo, 1974. 

Selections from the Liturgy of St. Basil, with Com¬ 
mentary by Aziz S. Atiya, ed. Ragheb Moftah. Re¬ 
corded at the Higher Institute of Coptic Studies. 
Cairo. 1955. 

Special Hymns for the Patriarchs and Bishops , ed. 
Ragheb Moftah. Recorded at the Higher Institute 
of Coptic Studies. Cairo, 1980. 

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MUSIC, COPTIC: Nonliturgical Music 


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1746 MUSIC, COPTIC: Nonliturgical Music 

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Cahiers copies 2 (1952):48-54. 

-“Notes sur les musiques arabe et copte." 

Cahiers copies 2 (1952):48ff. 

-"Notation et transcription de la musique 

copte." Cahiers copies 3 (1953):34—44. 

-- "Une etape de Part musical egyptien: la mu¬ 
sique copte—rccherches actuelles." Revue de la 
musique 36 (1954):21ff. 

-"Note sur la memorisation et 1'improvisa¬ 
tion dans le chant copte." Etudes gregoriennes 4 
(1959): 135-43. 

Moftah, R. "The Study of the Recording of the Cop¬ 
tic Airs: The History of Mu'allim Mikhfi’Il." Al-Kir- 
azah, 10, 17, and 14 January (1975). 

-"Coptic Music." Bulletin de I’/nstitut des 

etudes copies, (1958):42—53. 

-"Coptic Music." Saint Mark and the Coptic 

Church. Cairo, 1968. 

Mountford, J. F. "A New Fragment of Greek Music 
in Cairo." Journal of Hellenic Studies 51 
( 1931 ): 91 — 100 . 

Muyser, J. "Le 'Psali' copte pour la premiere heure 
du samedi de la joie." Le Museon 65 (1952): 175— 

-"Un 'Psali' acrostiche copte." Le Muston 66 

(1953):31 —40. 

Newlandsmith, E. Religion and the Arts. London, 

- A Minstrel Friar. London, 1927. 

-"The Music of the Mass as Sung in the 

Coptic Church, and Some Special Hymns in the 
Coptic Liturgy." Sixteen Folio Volumes of unpub¬ 
lished transcriptions, Vols. 1 and 2. Cairo, 1929— 
1933. Subsequent vols. are not dated. 

-"The Ancient Music of the Coptic Church," 

lecture delivered at the University Church, Ox¬ 
ford. London, 1931. 

- A Musician's Pilgrimage. London, 1932. 

O'Curry, E. On the Manners and Customs of the 
Ancient Irish, ed. with an Introduction, Appen¬ 
dices, and Notes by W. K. Sullivan. New York, 

O'Leary, De L. The Daily Office and Theotokia of the 
Coptic Church. London, 1911. 

-- The Coptic Theotokia. London, 1923. 

- The Difnar (Antiphonarium) of the Coptic 

Church. London, 1926-1930. 

Perier, J., ed. and trans. La Perle precieuse ... by 
Ibn Siba\ Paris, 1922. 

Philuthawus al-MaqSri. Kitdb Dalldl wa Tartib 
JunTat al-Aldm wa * Id al-Fish al-Majid. Cairo, 



Reese, G. Music in the Middle Ages with an Intro¬ 
duction on the Music of Ancient Times, pp. 57-94. 
New York, 1940. 

Robertson, M. "A Transcription and Motivic Analy¬ 
sis of Two Coptic Hymns.” Unpublished manu¬ 
script. Salt Lake City, 1980. 

_"Hymns from the Liturgy of St. Basil.” Un¬ 
published manuscripts. Salt Lake City, 1980- 

-"The Modern Coptic Tarnlmah, T'arah&nln, 

Farahanin’ ('We Are Joyful, We Are Joyful')." 
Coptologia 5 (1984):77-84. 

_"The Reliability of the Oral Tradition in 

Preserving Coptic Music: A Comparison of Three 
Musical Transcriptions of an Extract from the Lit¬ 
urgy of Saint Basil.” Bulletin de la Societe 
d'archeologie copte 26 (1984):83-93; 27 (1985): 

_"Vocal Music in the Early Coptic Church.” 

Coptologia 6 (!985):23-27. 

_"The Good Friday Trisagion of the Coptic 

Church (A Musical Transcription and Analysis).” 
Miscellany in Honour of Acad. Ivan Dujcev, Sofia, 
Bulgaria (in press). 

_"A Coptic Melody Sung Interchangeably in 

Different Languages: Comparisons Thereof and 
Proposed Dating Therefor.” Paper presented at 
the Third International Congress of Coptic Stud¬ 
ies in Warsaw, Poland, 1984. 

_"Which Came First, the Music or the Words 

(A Greek Text and Coptic Melody: Musical Tran¬ 
scription and Analysis of the Setting).” In By 
Study and Also By Faith: Essays in Honor o/ Hugh 
Nibley on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday, 
21 March 1990, ed. S. D. Ricks, pp. 416IL Salt 
Lake City, 1990. 

Sachs, C. Die Musikinstrumente des alien Agyptens. 
Berlin, 1921. 

_ Die Musik der Antike. Potsdam, 1935. 

_ The Rise of Music in the Ancient World, Hast 

and West. New York, 1943. 

Schott, S., ed. and trans. Alt'dgyptische Lieheslieder. 
Zurich, 1950. 

Shawan, S. al-. "An Annotated Bibliography of Cop¬ 
tic Music.” Unpublished M.A. thesis, Columbia 
University. New York, 1975. 

Sidarous, A. "La Paque sainte ou la Semaine sainte 
scion la liturgic copte." Proche-Orient chretien 18 


Tawftq Habib. Alhdn al-Kanisah al-Qibtiyyah (melo¬ 
dies of the Coptic church). Lecture given at the 
Coptic Girls College. Cairo, 30 March 1917. 

Toth, M. "A Transcription of the Complete Liturgy 
of St. Basil.” Cairo, 1970-1980. 

Villecourt, L., ed. and trans. ” Observances litur- 
giques et la discipline du jeflne dans I'eglise 
copte” (chapters XVI-XIX from Mishah al- 
Zuhnah by Abu al-Barakat ibn Kabar). I.e Museon 

36 (1923):249-92; 37 (1924):201-280; 38 


Villoteau, G. A. Description de TEgypte, etat mo- 
deme, Vol. 2: De Petal actuel de Part musical en 
Egypt, pp. 754fT. Paris, 1809. 

Wellesz, E. "The Earliest Example of Christian 
Hymnody.” Christian Quarterly 39 (1945):34fT. 

_ Eastern Elements in Western Chant. Oxford, 


Werner, E. The Sacred Bridge. London and New 
York. 1959. 

_"The Origin of the Eight Modes of Music 

(Octocchos).” Contributions to a Historical Study 
of Jewish Music. N.P., 1976. 

Ziegler, C. Catalogue des instruments de musique 
egypliens. Paris, 1979. 

MUSIC, CORPUS OF. See Music, Coptic: De¬ 

MUSIC, HISTORY OF. See Music, Coptic: His¬ 

tic: Nonliturgical Music. 

Coptic: Oral Tradition. 

GUAGES. See Music, Coptic: Melody. 

OF COPTIC. See Music, Coptic: Transcriptions. 

tic: Musical Instruments; Metalwork, Coptic: Wood¬ 
work, Coptic. 

sic, Coptic: History; Music, Coptic: Musical Instru¬ 

MUSICOLOGISTS. See Music, Coptic: Musicol¬ 

MUSTAFA KAMIL (1874-1908), Nationalist par¬ 
ty leader. He studied law at the Khedivial School of 
Law' and later at Toulouse in France, where he 


received a degree in 1894. His political interests 
and his intention to fight the British occupation 
started at an early age. In 1890 he founded a natio¬ 
nalist literary society and followed that by publish¬ 
ing his articles in the prominent Egyptian newspa¬ 
pers of that time. 

Mustafa Kamil's political career may be divided 
into three stages. The first stage covered the period 
between 1894 and 1900, during which he founded 
the clandestine Nationalist party and issued his fa¬ 
mous paper Al-Liwa*. 

The second stage was between the years 1900 and 
1904, when he concentrated on making the Egyp¬ 
tian question an international one. in order to ma¬ 
neuver the European powers, mainly France, to put 
pressure on England to force it to withdraw from 

During the third stage he concentrated on esca¬ 
lating internal resistance to Britain as revealed by 
the crisis that arose between the Ottoman and Brit¬ 
ish empires in 1906 over T&ba on the Gulf of 'Aqa¬ 
ba. He incited Islamic reactions in Egypt against 
the British occupation and to the Dinshway inci¬ 
dent, when the British resorted to particularly bru¬ 
tal measures in dealing with the fellahin of that 
village. He exploited the occasion to inflame Egyp¬ 
tian and European feelings regarding these mea¬ 
sures. This stage ended with the formation of the 
Nationalist Party on 22 October 1907. Mustafa Ka¬ 
mil died shortly afterward, in February 1908. 

Most Copts refused to join the political move¬ 
ment initiated by Mustafa Kamil because they re¬ 
sented its religious aspect and the call to Pan* 
Islamism adopted by Mustafa Kamil. The small 
number of Copts who joined his party is evident 
from the fact that of the thirty members who consti¬ 
tuted the administrative committee, only one was a 
Copt, WISSA WASSUr. while out of the 113 founders of 
the other big party, Hizb al-Ummah (Nation’s Par¬ 
ty), fourteen were Copts. 

However, toward the end of his life. Mustafa Ka¬ 
mil tried to create a society uniting Copts and Mus¬ 
lims, based on pure Egyptian sentiment. The motto 
of its adherents was Egyptians First of All. Even so, 
the Copts hesitated to join the Nationalist party, on 
account of the reasons mentioned and on account 
of Mustafa Kamil's connection with the Ottoman 

YCjnAn Labib Rizq 

MUSTURUD. See Pilgrimages. 

AL-'ASSAL (Mu’taman al-Dawlah), apparently 
the third and youngest brother of al-As'ad Abu al- 
Faraj Hibat-AII&h ibn al-'Assal, the second being al- 
Safi Abu al Fada’il ibn al-'Assal (Safi al-Dawlah). He 
lived in the first half of the thirteenth century, 
though no precise date could be assigned to him 
from the sources. 

Mallon (1907) ascribes to him two works that 
appear under al-As'ad in Kahhala's dictionary based 
on Cheikho's catalog of Christian Arabic manu¬ 
scripts. They are Majmu Usui al-Din w a-M asm it’ 
Mali sal al-Yaqin (Records of Foundations of Relig¬ 
ion), and Al-Tabsirah al-Mukhtasarah (Abridged 

Other works by Abu Ishaq quoted by Mallon in¬ 
clude Adah al-Kanisah (ecclesiastical usages) and 
Khutab al-A'yad al-Sayyidiyvah (festal homilies). 

But his major and enduring contribution lies in 
the held of philological studies, specifically his fa¬ 
mous scala under the Arabic title Al-Sullam al-Mu- 
qaffa wa-al-Dhahab al-Musaffti. Several attempts 
were made before Abu Ishaq to present a lexical 
compilation of Coptic vocabulary into Arabic, but 
most of them were confused and hardly usable ex¬ 
cept perhaps the work of Anba Yu’annis, bishop of 
Samannud, who made his selection from liturgical 
works, the Gospels, and Theotokia. Abu Ishaq used 
the work of Anba Yu’annis and improved on it by 
lilling lacunae and by alphabetizing entries. He also 
profited from the knowledge of eminent contempo¬ 
raries, notably the priest Abu-al-'Izz Mukhallis, al- 
Wajlh Yuhanna of Qalyiib, and the shaykh al-Tuqa 
ibn al-Dahlrl. For the first time, it could be said that 
a definitive and reliable Coptic sullam was 
achieved; this was the text that Kircher presented 
in his famous Lingua Aegyptiaca Restituta. 

Apart from the three Awlad al-'Ass&l already cited 
in this article, two others are worthy of mention. 
One was their father, Abu al-Fadl ibn Ishaq ibn Abi 
Sahl ibn Abi Yusr Yuhanna ibn al-'Assal, known as 
Fakr al-Dawlah (al-Katib al-Misrl, the Egyptian 
scribe). The other personality is that of al-Amjad 
Abu al-Majd ibn al-'Assal, a prominent Ayyubid 
functionary who lacked the literary glamor of the 
three older brothers, but who served as the eminent 
financier of the distinguished family. 


Kircher, A. Lingua Aegyptiaca Restituta. Rome, 

Mallon, A. Melanges de la Faculte Orientale, Vol. 2, 
pp. 260-63. Beirut, 1907. 


'Umar Rida Kahhalah. Mu'jam al-Mu'ciUi/in, 15 vols. 
Damascus, 1957-1961. 

Aziz S. Atiya 

ABl SULAYMAN DAWUD (d. 1216), a skilled 

physician, one or three brothers, the other two be¬ 
ing ABfi AL-FADL ibn abi sulaymAn and Abu Sa'id ibn 
Abl Sulayman. From the latter, Abu Shakir learned 
his medical skills. The sultan al-Malik al-'Adil (1200- 
1218) appointed him to the service of his son al- 
Malik al-K&mil. 


Ibn Abl Usaybi'ah. 'Uyiin a l-Anba' // Tabuqut al-Atib- 
bn\ pp. 589-90. Beirut, 1965. 

Pf.nelope Johnstone 

DAWLAH. See Hibat Allah 'Abd-allAh Ibn Sa'id 
ahDawlah al-Qibtl. 

1956), Dutch Coptologist. He was born in the 
Hague and studied theology and Egyptology at Fri¬ 
bourg in Switzerland with Eugene Devaud and went 
to Egypt in 1920 as a missionary for the African 
Mission Society. In February 1921 he was ordained 
a priest in the Coptic Catholic church and was as¬ 
signed to the city of Zagazig. He built a typical 
Coptic church named after Saint Pachomius in the 
city of Faqus. 

He contributed extensively to research in the his¬ 
tory of the church, Bible studies, biographies of 
church fathers, and related materials. He wrote in 
English, French, German, and Spanish. In addition, 
he mastered Coptic, Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic. 

He published numerous articles in both Arabic 
and European languages. One of his important con¬ 
tributions to Coptic studies is "Les Pdhrinages 
coptes en Egypte” (ed. G6rard Viaud, Bulletin de 
llnstilut frangais d'archeologie orientule, 1979). 


Dawson, W. R., and E. P. Uphill. Who Was Who in 
Egyptology, p. 211. London, 1972. 

Kammerer, W., comp. A Coptic Bibliography. Ann 
Arbor. Mich., 1950; repr. New York, 1969. 

M. L. BlF.kBRIF.R 
Sulayman Nasim 

MYRON. See. Chrism. 


mystic treatise on the symbolical interpretation of 
the letters of the Greek alphabet possibly written by 
an Egyptian or Palestinian monk in the fifth or sixth 

The complete title of the work is given in Arabic: 
Sharh Ihtijaj qalahu al-qass anba Saba al-Sa'ih ft 
sirr jalsajat Allah al-maknun fi huruf a If a wltct ("Ex¬ 
planation of a defense pronounced by the priest 
Anba Saba the Hermit concerning the mystery of 
the philosophy of God hidden in the letters of the 
Greek alphabet"). 

This work is still very little known. E. Revillout 
mentioned it in 1873 in connection with the Gnos¬ 
tic literature of the first centuries. A. Hebbelynck 
gave rather more precise details in a brief account 
published in 1896. It was not until 1900-1901 that 
his edition of the Sahidic text was finally published, 
accompanied by a short study and a translation in 
French. This text is known from a bilingual Sahidic 
Coptic and Arabic manuscript preserved in the 
Bodleian Library in Oxford (Huntington 396). It 
contains 119 folios and was described by John IJri 
in 1787, as number 55 of the Coptic manuscripts. 

The Sahidic text is certainly translated from the 
Greek. In 1989 Joseph Paramelle, S.J., who had 
discovered the original Greek version of this text, 
was preparing its publication. The Sahidic text 
comes to a halt on folio 113. What follows (15 
pages, fols. 113v— 119v) is exclusively in Arabic. 
This Arabic version was made by the copyist of the 
manuscript himself, who does not give his name 
but who records that he completed his work on 14 
Bashans 1109 A.M./9 May 1393. The Arabic version 
is as yet unpublished, as is the fifteen-page supple¬ 
ment that would seem to have been composed by 
the translator himself. G. Graf limits himself to 
mentioning the text in passing ( Geschichte der 
christlichen-arabischen Literatur, p. 662, lines 30- 

The author of the treatise wrote in Greek, but he 
knew Syriac and Hebrew. He lived after Epiphanius 
of Cyprus, from whom he quotes the following au¬ 
thors (according to Hebbelynck 1900-01): CLEMENT 
OF ROME, Dionysus the Areopagite, Ircnaeus ol Ly¬ 
ons, Epiphanius of Cyprus, the HEXAPuy and also 
the versions of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodo- 

The author's name is given several times in the 
Arabic version (e.g., fol. 114a) as being the hiero- 


monk Saba. The facl that he knew Greek, Syriac, 
and Hebrew suggests that he lived in Palestine. He 
may have been the person, born in 439 and died in 
531, who founded several Palestinian monasteries. 

This is not a Gnostic or magic work but belongs 
to a branch of Egyptian literature concerned with 
the hidden meanings of letters. "From the fourth 
century onward," writes Hebbelynck, "Egypt offers 
remarkable examples of the branch of literature. 
The writings, of which St. Jerome has given us a 
Latin version entitled Monita S. Pachomii, SS. 
Pachomii el Theodori Epistolae, Verba mystica (S. 
Pachomii), contain a series of admonitions and pro¬ 
nouncements, each one more enigmatic than the 
other, based on the occult significance of the alpha¬ 
bet" (Hebbelynck, 1900, pp. 9-10; cf. Patrologia 
Latina 23, cols. 61-100). Hebbelynck gives other 
examples (pp. 10-11) of this kind of literature as 
well. This view leads to a different hypothesis con¬ 
cerning the identity of the author. S&ba might have 
been an Egyptian hieromonk trained in Alexandria, 
who composed his treatise directly in Greek. 


Hebbelynck, A. "Une Page d’un manuscrit copte 
intitule 'Les mysteres des letlres grecques' (De¬ 
scription cosmogoniquc)." In Melanges Charles 
de Harlez, pp. 127-32. Leiden, 1896. 

_"Les mystdres des lettres grecques d’apr&s 

un manuscrit cople-arabe de la Bibliotheque bod- 
ldicnne d'Oxford." Le Museon 19 (l900):5-36, 
105-36, 269-300; 20 (1901):5-33, 369-414. and 
plates 1-3. 

Revillout, E. Premiere elude sur le mouvement des 
esprits dans les premiers sticks de noire ere. Vie 
el sentences de Secundus, d'apres divers manu- 
scrits orientaux. Les analogies de ce livre avec les 
ouvrages gnostiques. Paris, 1873. 

Uri, J. Bibliothecae Bodleianae codicurn manuscrip- 
lorum orientalium . . . catalogus, Vol. 1, p. 327 
(no. 55). Oxford, 1787. 

Khalil Samir. S.J. 

TIC ART. [This entry consists of a brief introduc¬ 
tion and a number of short articles by various au¬ 



Apollo and Daphne 

Bellerophon and the Chimera 









The Nile God 

Nilotic Scenes 

Pastoral Scenes 

The Seasons 


The Three Graces] 

The ancient civilizations of the Middle East 
abounded in myths, which expressed sacred truths 
in words. Mythological subjects were a fertile 
source of inspiration for artists. As one civilization 
succeeded another in the same area, the newer my¬ 
thology gradually superseded the old, and the ico¬ 
nography changed accordingly. But elements of the 
older faith often blended with or were assimilated 
to the newer one or continued to exist alongside it. 
Thus in Roman Egypt, elements of pharaonic my¬ 
thology and iconography were absorbed into Greco- 
Roman mythology and iconography. And in the 
Christian and early Muslim periods, from the mid¬ 
fifth century to the twelfth century, a great many 
pagan themes persisted in Coptic art. 

In some instances a pagan theme, such as rebirth, 
was assimilated to a Christian theme. In other in¬ 
stances, the pagan symbol was so often repeated 
that all its original religious significance was lost 
and it became merely a decorative device. In still 
other situations, the pagan symbol was retained for 
its magic value, reflecting the ancient Egyptian be¬ 
lief in the efficacy of magic, which was deemed to 
prevail over the new faith. 


In Greek tradition, the Amazons are a nation of 
women warriors ruled by a queen, said to live in 
northern Asia Minor. Descendants of the Greek war 
god, Ares, they are associated with combat in such 
events as the Trojan War; the battle against the 
hero Hercules (Greek, llerakles), their enemy par 
excellence because he killed their queen, Hippoly- 
ta; and the invasion of Attica in vengeance against 
an expedition by the hero Theseus. In addition they 
are linked with funeral divinities and with the cor¬ 
tege of the wine god, Dionysus, probably as an ex¬ 
pression of the forces of change. A cult was devoted 



to them. In Egypt a demotic papyrus mentions the 
Amazons and their queen as allies of Petekhons 
(P'-ti-Hrsw) in a military expedition to India (Vol- 
ten, 1962). 

In Coptic art the Amazons appear chielly in rela¬ 
tion to the labors of Hercules and the Dionysiac 
world. They are most clearly depicted in textiles; 
their identification remains doubtful in other media 
such as a small ivory carving in the State Collection 
of Egyptian An, Munich. As warriors they wear a 
light chiton, long or short, sometimes speckled with 
small circles, leaving one or both breasts bare so 
they can wield weapons more freely. They also 
wear the cap of the Phrygian archers and the trou¬ 
sers {cmuksyrides ) worn by Eastern peoples. When 
on horseback, they are armed, either drawing a 
bow with an arrow fitted to it or brandishing a 
two-edged hatchet. The shield is on the ground, 
between the horse's hoofs. 

The Amazons generally appear in scenes of viol¬ 
ence—occasionally in war, more often dueling with 
a hero or hunting. Representations of warlare, Ama- 
zonomachy, are, in fact, rather rare. In a textile in 
Jerusalem (Baginski and Tidhar, 1980, no. 13), 
Amazons and Greek warriors lace each other bellig¬ 
erently, with three Amazons on horseback and two 
others fallen conquered. An unusual textile, from 
the excavations of A. Gayet at Antinoopolis (Rut- 
schowscaya, 1984) and dating from the fourth to 
fifth centuries, depicts a scene with two Amazons 
kneeling beside a male figure who is subduing 
them. A textile in the Museum of Ancient Art, Mi¬ 
lan, from the sixth to seventh centuries (D'Andria, 
1968) preserves the figure of a hero grasping a 
kneeling Amazon by the hair, while another figure 
bearing a shield advances on the opposite side. This 
composition goes back to the shield of the Athena 
Parthenos by Phidias, which also served as the mod¬ 
el for the schema of the kneeling Amazon held by 
the hero—when this is an isolated subject. 

Far more common are the themes of the Amazon 
dueling with the hero and the Amazon hunting. The 
theme of the Amazon dueling is attested in two 
iconographical schemas. In the first, the Amazon 
riding her horse brandishes an ax while the warrior 
pursues her, seizes her by the wrist or by the hair, 
and is about to pierce her with his sword. In the 
second theme, the unhorsed Amazon has fallen to 
her knees disarmed, with her arms behind her 
body. The hero, seizing her by the hair, pulls her 
head back and prepares to stab her. 

The first schema has been identified in a textile 
from the Benaki Museum, Athens (du Bourguct, 

1964, no. 242) and in a textile from the State Push¬ 
kin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow (Shurinova, 
1967, no. 7). Several other examples that have re¬ 
mained unidentified or have been wrongly inter¬ 
preted may be cited, such as, for example, a piece 
from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London 
(Kendrick, 1920, no. 100), and another from the 
Museum of Fine Arts, Dijon, France (Cauderlier, 
1986, no. 158). The ax brandished by the Amazon, 
who is always in the same position, seems trans¬ 
formed into a cross, a portrayal that has given 
much food for thought (perhaps too much) to those 
who have studied it. 

The second schema may be recognized in many 
examples, ranging from very legible representations 
(Kendrick, 1920, no. 56; Akashi, 1953, no. 12), 
through a progressive stylization (Shurinova, 1967, 
no. 86; du Bourguct, 1964, no. 177; Forrer, 1893, P 
IX, 8), to an almost total disaggregation of the fig¬ 
ures (du Bourguet, 1964, F 223; Kendrick, 1920, no. 
57). A subcategory constitutes those renderings that 
appear to be divided horizontally by the hero's 
cloak. In late examples (seventh century) of this 
schema, the figures are no longer in contact. In the 
London textile mentioned by Kendrick, it is the 
Amazon herself who brings her hand to her head, 
which recalls the original formula. The hero, here 
clearly Hercules, leans on his club, while a cupid in 
flight holds the crown of victory above his head. 
Although it is not easy to identify definitely the two 
protagonists of the scene, it seems that the Coptic 
artist usually tended to adopt, fix, and repeat a 
schema, chosen from among the great variety of 
material in the traditional repertoire. In this textile 
the artist apparently wanted to memorialize the 
duel between Hercules and Hippolyta, the ninth of 
his twelve labors, in which Hercules wrests from 
her the precious girdle that was a gift from Ares. 
Such an interpretation is supported by the fact that 
in other textiles this representation figures among 
the labors of Hercules. Moreover, the hero is recog¬ 
nizable beyond a doubt in both the Athens and 
London textiles. 

The theme of the Amazon hunting, which seems 
most widespread in the seventh century, can be 
seen on textiles notably in the medallions—often in 
silk—that enclose two Amazons, each astride a 
rearing horse and symmetrically separated in rela¬ 
tion to a central axis (von Falke, 1913, nos. 45 and 
47; Wessel, 1964, no. 126; Kendrick, 1922, nos. 
810-16). Wearing short chitons and long, flowing 
scarves, they hold their bows ready to shoot the 
felines pictured in the lower part of the medallion. 



Two dogs also appear on occasion (Kendrick. 1922, 
no. 821). On other textiles, women pictured on 
horseback wearing Phrygian caps and accompanied 
by animals of the hunt should probably he recog¬ 
nized as Amazons (Wulfl and Volbach. 1926. p. 46). 
The medallions, which are also found on textiles 
from Byzantium and Syria, are often admirable 
pieces of work. Probably executed at the request of 
a cultivated and refined clientele in those cities 
most imbued with Helleni/ed culture such as Alex¬ 
andria and Panopolis (AKHmIm), they circulated 
throughout the entire Mediterranean basin. 


Akashi, K. Coptic Textiles from Burying Grounds in 
Egypt in the Collection of the Kanegafuchi Spin¬ 
ning Compiiny. Kyoto. 1953. 

Baginski. A., and A. Tidhar. Textiles from Egypt 4th 
13th Centuries C.E. Jerusalem, 1980. 

Bourgucl, P. du. I'Art copte. Petit Palais. Paris, 

_ Catalogue des etoffes copies. Vol. I. Musee 

National du Louvre. Paris. 1964. 

Cauderlier, P. Les Tissus copies. Catalogue raisonne 
du Musee des Beaux-Arts de Dijon. Dijon, 1986. 
D'Andria, F. "Un lessuto copto con Ainazonomachia 
del Musco del Castello Sfor/.csco a Milano." Ae- 
gyptus 43 (1968): 141-46. 

Falke, (>. von. Kunstgeschichie dei Seidcnwebcrei. 
Berlin, 1913. 

Forrer, R. Die (riihchristlichen Alter thinner a us dem 
Graberfelde von Aclnnim-Panopolis. Strasbourg, 

Kendrick, A. F. Catalogue of Textiles from Burying- 
Grounds in Ugypt, 3 vols. London, 1920, 1921. 

Rutschowscaya, M il. "Un Ensemble de tapisseries 
coptes a decor mvthologique." La Revue du Lou¬ 
vre et des mnsees de Irance 5-6 (1984):3I9- 25. 
Volten, A. Agypler und Amazonen. Line demotische 
Lrziihlung des Inaros-Peiuhaslis-Kreises aus zwei 
Papyri der Osterreichischen Nationalbihliothek 
{Pap. Dem. Vin dob. 6165 und 6I65A). Vienna, 

Wessel, K. Koptische Kunst. Recklinghausen, 1963. 



Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love and 
beauty, who probably originated in Asia or Cyprus. 
She was the most popular of all the Greek divinities 

whose worship had spread to Egypt. The Egyptians 
probably found the family links between Aphrodite, 
her lover, the war god Ares, and her son, Eros, 
familiar because of the relations between their own 
beloved divine family the goddess Isis, her hus¬ 
band. Osiris, and their son, Homs. Aphrodite was 
identified with Isis, who had already fused with the 
homed sky goddess Hathor, and incorporated some 
of the Egyptian divinity’s attributes in her own ap¬ 
pearance. Terra-cotta figurines honored in Alexan¬ 
drian temples up to the third century a.d. have the 
arms close-set to the body in the Egyptian style and 
bear on their head the disk of the sun between 
cow’s horns characteristic of Hathor. 

In another version of Aphrodite’s story, she was 

Conch shell representing Aphrodite. Third-fourth 
century. Courtesy (.'optic Museum, Cairo. 



Aphrodite Anadyomene between a Triton and a Nereid. Limestone. Sixth century. 
Courtesy Louvre Museum, Paris. 

believed to be bom of the foam of the sea and was 
blown to land, possibly in Cyprus in a conch shell. 
As Aphrodite Anadyomene ("rising from the wa¬ 
ters"), under the influence of the Platonic concept 
ol ideas, she became the symbol of spiritual love. 

A new influence, this time Christian, affected the 
myth of Aphrodite. According to a Syrian legend, 
Nonnos, a filth-century bishop ol Heliopolis, was 
present at the Council of Antioch. There he played 
a decisive role in the conversion ol the celebrated 
courtesan Pelagia, who was dedicated to Aphrodite 
Anadyomene. Pelagia is said to have withdrawn to 
Gethsemane in solitude as Pelagia the anchorite. 
Thus the pagan sea-born goddess Aphrodite Anady- 
omene seems to have become associated with the 
rebirth of the soul in the water of Christian bap¬ 
tism. As much Platonic as Christian in inspiration, 
she appeared with remarkable frequency in Coptic 
art, especially in Middle Egypt, as late as the Mus¬ 
lim period. She is represented as a woman, a conch 
shell, or a cross in reliefs in stone as at the monas¬ 
tery of 0AYR A I* A JEREMIAH at Saqqara or in wood in 
the monastery at liawit. She also appears in tapes¬ 
tries, now in the Louvre, Paris. 


Bourguet, P. du. /.'Art copie. Collection I’Art dans le 
nionde. Paris, 1968. 

Planeia, L. del. “Un tessuto copto con nascita di 
Afrodite." In Studi Maleriali, pp. 209-221. 
Rome, 1984. 

Heckscher, W. S. The Anadyomene in ihc Mediaeval 
Tradition, pp. 1-38. Reprinted from Netherlands 
Year-book for History of Art, 1956. 


Apollo and Daphne 

In Greek mythology Apollo was the god of the 
sun, archery, soothsaying, medicine, and music. He 
had many amorous escapades, including the vain 
pursuit of the nymph Daphne (see below), who was 
changed by the earth goddess into a laurel tree to 
avoid capture. Coptic artists occasionally depicted 
the story ol Apollo and Daphne in various pieces of 
sculpture and textiles. 

A beautiful ivoiy carving of the fifth to sixth cen¬ 
tury in the National Museum of Ravenna bears a 
scene in which a nude Apollo is playing his lyre in 
an effort to charm the unhappy Daphne, entrapped 
in the tree. The figures are separated by a swan, a 
bird sacred to Apollo. The same theme is found in 
two textiles in the Louvre. It magnificently deco¬ 
rates one of the tapestry squares of a hanging 

Aphrodite. Limestone carved relief. Ahnasiyah. Third 
century. Courtesy Coptic Museum, Cairo. 



The Shawl of Sabine. Detail: A square depicting the 
myth of Apollo and Daphne. Fragment of a tapestry. 
Antinoii. Sixth century. Courtesy Louvre Museum, 

known as the Shawl of Sabine (fifth to sixth centu¬ 
ry). Here the god is depicted as a hunter holding 
his bow in one hand and taking an arrow from his 
quiver with the other. He is nude under the cloak 
thrown over his shoulder. His lyre leans against a 
column entwined by two garlands in a sign of con¬ 
secration. Daphne appears in the laurel tree, un¬ 
clothed but bedecked with earrings, bracelets, and 
a necklace. At the instant of her metamorphosis, 
she offers Apollo a flower in the shape of a cross, 
which gives a Christian significance to the scene. 
The other textile, a medallion of the ninth century, 
shows the same subject but is poor in style and 
difficult to identify. 


Bourguet, P. du. I.‘Art copte, pp. 47, 88, 89. Paris, 



Ariadne was a Minoan princess and vegetation 
goddess who was the spouse oi Dionysus, Greek 

god of the vine (see below). According to one ver¬ 
sion of the myth, Ariadne escaped from Crete with 
the Greek hero Theseus but was left by him on 
Naxos, the island of Dionysus. Her elevation to di¬ 
vinity through the god's love symbolized the ascent 
of the soul to the divine light and immortality. 

Dionysus and his retinue—the shepherd god Pan, 
satyrs and sileni (woodland spirits), maenads or 
bacchantes (female devotees), grape-gathering cu- 
pids, and Ariadne—were frequently depicted in 
Coptic an. Nevertheless, the only certain represen¬ 
tation of Ariadne is in a tapestry square in the Mu¬ 
seum of Fine Arts, Vienna. Within the square, 
framed by a scroll of acanthus leaves with fruit, 
flowers, and birds, is her bust surmounted bv her 
name in Greek. Ariadne, seen full-face with her 
eyes turned toward the left, has on her head a 
jeweled diadem and wears a necklace with a bulla 
(hollow pendant) and earrings. Her head stands out 
against an aureole, an attribute of the ancient solar 
deities and a symbol of immortality. This square is 
the counterpart of an identical square in the muse¬ 
um representing Dionysus' head and shoulders in 
the same attitude. The fact that they match suggests 
that if a tapestry square in the Louvre that presents 
a masculine bust crowned with ivy is indeed Dio¬ 
nysus, then we must recognize Ariadne in a similar 
square also in the Louvre. In this piece her finery 
consists of a diadem, earrings, and a necklace 
adorned with pendant pomegranates. All these 
squares show the same style of round face with 
large ringed eyes and are marked by a slight shad¬ 
ing of colors, reminiscent of bas-relief, that is char¬ 
acteristic of the fifth century. 


Bourguet, P. du. Catalogue des ctoffes copies, Vol. 

1. Musee national du Louvre. Paris, 1964. 
Wessel, K. L'Art copte. figs. 112, 113. Brussels, 



Bellerophon and the Chimera 

Bellerophon was a Greek hero from Corinth who 
rode the divine winged horse Pegasus and slew the 
fire-breathing, lion-headed Chimera. The two fig¬ 
ures symbolize the triumph of good over evil, a 
parallel to the ancient Egyptian myth of the sun god 
Horns who conquers the evil god Seth, represented 
as a monster, or various victorious Christian saints: 



Sisinnios, conqueror of Alabastria; George, slayer of 
the dragons; Michael, conqueror of Lucifer; and 
other saints on horseback. 

Bellerophon and the Chimera appear only once 
in Coptic art, in a tapestry medallion in the sixth* 
century Shawl of Sabine in the Louvre. They may 
be given a Christian interpretation, as appears in 
the nearby small panel of Daphne, holding out a 
cruciform flower to the pursuing Apollo, perhaps to 
keep him at a distance. 


Bourguel, P. du. "L'Arl copte. Petit Palais." In Ca¬ 
talogue d'Exposition, no. 152. Paris, 1%4. 



In ancient Egypt, dance was closely linked with 
many aspects of life—religious ceremonies, funeral 
rites, and agricultural festivals. Dancers, therefore, 
are among the oldest and most frequently repre¬ 
sented subjects in pharaonic art. In the period of 

Ariadne. Tapestry, Filth century. Courtesy Louvre 
Museum, Paris. 

The Shawl of Sabine. Detail: Bellerophon and the Chimera. Tapestry. Antinoe. Sixth 
century. Courtesy Louvre Museum, Paris. 


Patera with the handle shaped like a dancer carrying 
a cross. Bronze. Eighth century. Courtesy Coptic 
Museum, Cairo. 

the Ptolemies, dancing was associated with the bac¬ 
chantes, who took part in Dionysiae rites of Greek 
origin, which probably blended with older Egyptian 
rites. In Christian times, dance did not vanish. It 
continued to be part of seasonal festivals such as 
saints' birthdays, which still exist, or was an ele¬ 
ment of pilgrimages, often confused with festivals, 
or was simply an expression of joy in an African 
country. The fruit of vine of the Gospels was substi¬ 
tuted without scruple for’ the exaltation of wine in 
Dionysiae celebrations. 

Thus dancing is one of the most favored themes 
in Coptic art from the second or third century to its 
disappearance in the twelfth century. Its long life is 
explained by the changing symbolism attached to it. 
A notable example of the Christianization of the 
Egyptian dancing girl or Greek bacchante is on the 
handle of an eighth-century bronze saucer (patera). 
The upright figure has her legs crossed and holds a 
composite cross above her head. 

On stonework, bronze vases, or molded clay 
forms, the dancer, male or female, is an isolated 
figure in relief. A bronze figure of a dancing girl in 
the Louvre from the sixth century has straight legs 
and raised arms and holds a sistrum (instrument 

like a tambourine). Generally, however, these danc¬ 
ers are recognized by their crossed legs, which be¬ 
come rigid like crossed sticks after the Muslim con¬ 
quest in the seventh century, when Coptic art 
declined. An example is a stone relief in the Coptic 
Museum, Cairo. 

Dancers are found especially in textiles. They 
evolve in style, pose, and costume in three stages. 
At first, by means of hatching (fine criss-crossed 
lines) achieved with the flying shuttle, the figures 
present the illusion of modeling in the round, and a 
great variety of poses unfolds freely and endlessly. 
The dancer, male or female, is easily confused with 
the putto (cupid), especially when the dancer is 
holding a winged creature. Male and female cou¬ 
ples are often found. The man usually wears a loin¬ 
cloth. The woman often wears only a long necklace 

Dancer with a sistrum. Stone relief. Seventh century. 
Courtesy Coptic Museum, Cairo. 



and a scarf on one arm. Occasionally she wears a 
loose robe leaving one breast bare. 

In the second stage, the poses stiffen and the 
body is tending toward a silhouette with limbs out 
of proportion. In the third stage, after the Muslim 
conquest, the figure becomes nothing but a full- 
face, stiff silhouette, which becomes progressively 
more disproportionate, until in the Fatimid period 
(10th-12th century) the head rests on the legs. The 
couples give way to isolated individuals, usually 
girls. The dominant posture is both arms raised, 
with or without castanets, and the legs parallel in¬ 
stead of crossed. If she is not holding castanets, the 
girl dancer may have on one arm a scarf, wreath, 
plant, or shepherd’s crook. A male dancer usually 
has one arm raised or both arms bent with each 
hand holding an implement that might be a trident 
or a plant. By this time both the male and female 
dancer are fully clothed in a long robe falling from 
the shoulders. 


Beckwith, J. Coptic Sculpture. London, 1963. 
Bourguet, P. du. Catalogue des etoffes copies, Vol. 
1. Musee national du Louvre. Paris, 1964. 

_ L'Art copte. Collection Part dans le monde. 

Paris, 1968. 

Pirrrp. du Bourguet, S.J. 


In Greek mythology, the nymph Daphne is the 
daughter of the river god, Pcneus, and the beloved 
of Leucippus, son of Oenomeus. She is pursued by 
the god Apollo, whose love she rejects, and when 
he is about to seize her, the nymph begs help from 
the earth goddess, who immediately causes her to 
disappear by transforming her into a laurel tree. 

In sculpture, according to well-known examples, 
the nymph alone seems to have found preference 
over the double representation of Apollo and Daph¬ 
ne that appears in other media. A group of reliefs 
based on mythological themes has been discovered 
at Ahnas al-Madlnah in Middle Egypt, but it cannot 
be determined whether they came from a pagan 
temple or a Christian church. Two of these reliefs, 
from the fifth centuiy, in the Coptic Museum, 
Cairo, depict Daphne, unclothed and bereft of her 
jewels, clinging with both arms to the tree branch¬ 
es. In a relief (from the fifth to sixth century) from 
Shaykh 'Abadah, now in the Louvre, Daphne is 

Two dancers in a square, with floweret decorations. 
Tapestry. Ninth century. I leight: 25 cm; width: 24 cm. 
Courtesy Louvre Museum, Paris. 

shown nude, her legs vanishing into the tree and 
her neck ornamented with a necklace of heavy bul¬ 
lae in the form of flowers. She is holding the laurel 
tree with a gesture analagous to that of Aphrodite 
Anadyomene, rising from the sea twisting her long 

Whether these three reliefs bear any Christian 
significance remains obscure, but the interpretation 

Niche representing the goddess Daphne. Limestone. 
Ahnasiyah. Third century. Courtesy Coptic Museum, 

Funerary stela in the name of Tebika, decorated with 
the theme of Daphne. Painted limestone. Eighth- 
ninth century. Height: 38 cm; width: 28 cm; thick¬ 
ness: 8 cm. Courtesy Louvre Museum, Pahs. 

Daphne as an orant emerging from the tree. Lime¬ 
stone. Shaykh 'Abadah. Fifth century. Courtesy Lou¬ 
vre Museum, Paris. 


of an arched stela of the late period, in the Louvre, 
is clear. Daphne is depicted in an altitude of prayer 
within a beaded medallion, which is placed on a 
column flanked by two dolphins. A funerary inscrip¬ 
tion starting with a cross runs around the border. 
Thus the Christianization of Daphne is accom¬ 
plished. The nymph in the medallion derives from 
funerary portraits in medallions on Roman sarcoph¬ 
agi, and the dolphins are symbolic of Christ. It 
seems clear that the resurrection of Daphne in the 
form of a laurel tree must be assimilated to a sec¬ 
ond and more important birth—that of the soul 
into eternal life. 

The Greek wine god Dionysus was the focus of a 
mystery religion introduced into Egypt at the time 
of its conquest by Alexander (he Great in the fourth 
century B.C. In fact, Alexander justified his claim to 
govern Egypt by declaring himself to be a dcscen- 
dent of Zeus-Amon and Dionysus. That claim was 
appropriated by his successors, the Ptolemies, who 
developed the Dionysiac cult. It flourished widely 
during the Ptolemaic period and the first three cen¬ 
turies of the Christian era. Dionysus and his retinue 
was the pagan subject most frequently depicted by 
Coptic artists. His popularity was probably due to 
the Egyptians' interest in mystery religions and es¬ 
pecially to the emphasis given his cult by the 

Dionysus was the son of Zeus and a mortal, Sem- 
ele. She, pregnant with Dionysus, was destroyed by 
the god’s lightning when he appeared in his divine 
splendor. Zeus then had to cany the baby to term 


Bourguet, P. du. L'Art copte, pp. 86 121. Collection 
I'Art dans le monde. Paris, 1968. 

Coche de la Ferte, E. L'Antiquite chretienne an 
Musee du Louvre, p. 88. Paris, 1958. 

Duthuit, G. La Sculpture copte, pp. 35ff. Paris, 1931. 

Clemence Neyret 




in his thigh hence the baby’s name 'Twice-born.’’ 
Hera's vengeance against her husband's child con¬ 
stantly pursued him. She drove insane those to 
whom he had been entrusted, and Dionysus, trans¬ 
formed by Zeus into a kid, was reared by nymphs. 
As an adult, he discovered the vine and its use. 
Himself driven mad by Hera, he wandered through 
the world until the mother goddess Cybele-Rhea 
cured him, whereupon he departed on a path o! 
conquest, mounted on his chariot drawn bv pan¬ 
thers and adorned with vine tendrils ami ivy leaves. 
A cortege of sileni, bacchantes, and satyrs attended 
him in his travels. Eventually Dionysus descended 

w w 

into the underworld to ask Hades to release his 
mother, Semele. Triumphant, he was welcomed 
into heaven. 

Celebrated by Nonnos ol Panopolis in his epic 
poem the Dionysiacs in the fourth century A.D.. he 
appears as the envoy from the gods sent to comfort 
distressed mankind and bring to them the vine, 
which is a symbol of rebirth. 

Dionysus is generally depicted as a guide, holding 
a thyrsus, a long stall decorated with ivy and tipped 
with a pine cone or a bunch of grapes. Most often 
nude, he has the chlamys, a cloak of Macedonian 
origin, thrown over his shoulder, and is shod with 
embadcs ("fell shoes"), a souvenir of his sojourn in 
India. He is pictured as blond, at least wherever 
color plays a role, and his curly locks arc crowned 
with (lowers, ivy, and vines. He is widely represent¬ 
ed by sculptures in stone, wood, and ivory, and in 
the textiles of Coptic Egypt. The Louvre conserves a 
relief in limestone dating from the fourth century, 
whose provenance is probably Antinoopolis 
(Shaykh 'Abadah) wherein Dionysus is shown 
emerging from vine branches. Me is easily recog¬ 
nized by his embadcs. Mis pose is extremely dynam 
ic; his hair is curly, and he is nude, not even wear¬ 
ing a chlamys. His attendants, particularly the 
grape-picking cupids, are portrayed the same way 
and are full of motion, unlike the still, hieratic 
gods, according to M. II. Rutschowscaya. 

Dionysus is also pictured leaning against a pillar, 
with his legs crossed and his right hand placed on a 
sort of vegetal diadem, in a limestone relief in the 
Dumbarton Oaks Collection, coming perhaps from 
Alinas al-Madlnah and attributed to the sixth centu¬ 
ry. He is similarly portrayed in a filth-ccntury textile 
called Dionysus ami llis Attendant, in the Louvre. 
The symbolism of this pose has been demonstrated 
at length by M. T. Picard-Schmitter, who saw there¬ 
in a blending of the pharaonic myth of Osiris and 

Niche depicting Dionysus and his followers. Lime¬ 
stone fragment from Ahnasiyah. Third century. Cour¬ 
tesy Coptic Museum, Cairo. 

the myth of Dionysus. The god, holding a vegetal 
diadem similar to Osiris' crown of justification, is 
shown in his triumphant resurrection from the 
world ol the dead as a guide for mankind toward 
life after death. 

Remembering that Dionysus was the originator ol 
viticulture and that wine was already, during the 
pharaonic epoch, a source ol eternity. Coptic weav¬ 
ers frequently pictured Dionysus as emerging from 
a vine coming out from a two-handled vase. The 
vine's branches are also inhabited by goats, hares, 
and birds. Ihc most representative textile bearing 
this motif is in the Austrian Museum ol Applied Art 
in Vienna, wherein Dionysus appears nude, noncha¬ 
lantly leaning upon his thyrsus, holding the chlamys 
over his shoulder, and shod with embades. llis left 
hand caresses his favorite animal, the panther. 

The iconography of Dionysus would be incom- 


Dionysus caught in the vine. Courtesy Coptic Muse¬ 
um, Cairo. 


Dionysus scene. Sixth century. Courtesy Dumbarton Oaks Collection, Washington, D.C. 

plete without mentioning the existence of his "offi¬ 
cial" portraits. There are, in fact, many textiles 
wherein his name is inscribed in complete letters 
alongside his half-length portrait, for example, a 
textile in the Vienna Art Museum. Such portraits 
have their counterparts picturing his wife Ariadne. 
Dionysus is also pictured afoot, as on a ribbon frag¬ 
ment in the Art Museum in DUsseldorf. These por¬ 

trayals give an irrefutable identity to the personage 
represented, and thereby permit one to identify as 
Dionysus all pieces of textiles or sculptures in 
wood, stone, or ivory that are iconographically 

At the beginning of the twentieth century, schol¬ 
ars wondered if the cult of Dionysus had not been 
important in the origins of Christianity in Egypt, 
notably because of the dual role of victim and sav¬ 
ior played by both Dionysus and Christ and the 
importance of wine in Dionysiac ritual and in the 
Eucharist. It is true that the vine appears frequently 
in both catacomb paintings and Coptic art. It does 
not seem, however, that the personage of Dionysus 
was ever assimilated to that of the Christ crucified 
at Golgotha, though the Greek god was a figure of 
great human and religious significance. Nonethe¬ 
less, owing to its frequency, the theme of the vine 
must have been imperceptibly blended with that of 
the true vine of the Christians mentioned in Jn. 15:1 
without any reference to the pagan god. 

Dionysiac personage. Limestone relief from Shaykh 
'Abadah. Fourth century. Height: 61 cm; width: 60 
cm; Thickness: Niche, 7 cm; personage in relief, 14 
cm. Courtesy Louvre Museum, Paris. 


Bourguet, P. du. L'Art copte. Petit Palais. Paris, 

_ L'Art copte. Collection I'Ail dans le monde. 

Paris, 1968. 

Brun de Saint Hippolyte, C. La Contamination du 
mythe d'Osiris et du mythe de Dionysos dans les 
tissus copies. Paris, 1984, 

Effcnberger, A. Koptische Kunst . Leipzig, 1975. 

Grimal, P. Dictionnaire de la mythologie grecque et 
romaine. Paris, 1963. 

Jeanmaire, H. Dionysos, Histoire du culte de Bac¬ 
chus. Paris, 1970. 

Koptische Kunst. Christentum am Nil. Catalog of the 
Exposition at Villa HUgel. Essen, 1963. 



Picard-Schmitter, M. T. "Une Tapisserie hel- 
I6nislique d'Antinoe du Musee du Louvre." Monu¬ 
ments Piot 52 (I962):27—75. 

Rulschowscaya, M.-H. "Une Tenlure coplc aux 
amours vendangeurs." In La Revue du Louvre, 
fasc. 3. Paris, 1980. 

Turcan, R. Sarcophages remains a representa¬ 
tions dionysiac/ues. Paris, 1966. 



Hercules was a Greek hero noted for his great 
bravery, strength, and good humor. The son of Zeus 
and the mortal Alcmene, he was driven mad by 
Zeus’ vengeful wife, llera, and killed his own wife 
and children. After performing twelver labors as 
penance, he became immortal. In Egypt Hercules 
was assimilated to Horns, and two towns were 
named I (eraklcopolis in his honor, but there are 
few representations of him in Coptic art. A stela 
from the Roman period now in the Louvre shows 
him in a niche of Egyptian inspiration. His long 
chase of the hind of Cerynea, one of his twelve 
labors, can be recognized in a third-century tapes¬ 
try preserved in the Hcnaki Museum. In another 
tapestiy from that museum, the Amazon queen Hip- 
polytc, killed by Hercules in one of his labors, is 
surrounded by the figures of Hercules, his second 
wife, Deianira, and the centaur Nessu.s. Hercules 
appears on four reliefs of the fifth or sixth century 
in the Coptic Museum in Cairo. Two of them, from 
Alinas al-Madmah or llcraklcopolis, show his head 
and shoulders only, surrounded by ornamental foli¬ 
age. In the third relief, he is bearded, wears only a 
draped mantle, and holds his club as he lights the 
Nemcan lion, one of his labors. This dynamic com¬ 
position includes a second character, wearing a fe¬ 
line skin, which no doubt represents Hercules after 
his victory. In the fourth relief, he stands in heroic 
nudity between the lion and his club, crowned by 
two Victories. On a piece of tapestry in the Coptic 
Museum, the lion leaps upon the hero, who is 
armed with his club. Numerous Coptic tapestry 
decorations and sculptures show a man at grips 
with a feline beast. This iconography perhaps de¬ 
rives from the feat of Hercules but has been applied 
to simple hunting or circus scenes. 


Duthuit, G. La Sculpture copte, p. 39. and pi. 24. 

Paris, 1931. 

ITieze showing Hercules. Filth-sixth centuries. Cour¬ 
tesy Coptic Museum. Cairo. 

Zalosccr, H., "Une scene de chassc stir une archi¬ 
trave au Musee copte." Ilulletin de la Societe d'ar- 
cliiologie copte 8 (1942): 145-63. 

Dominique Bp.nazp.tii 


Horns was the Egyptian sun god who avenged the 
death ol his father, Osiris, by killing Osiris’ brother 
and murderer, the god Seth. Osiris, who is fre¬ 
quently represented with a falcon's head, symboliz¬ 
es good. Seth, in the form of a monster, symbolizes 
evil. The myth of Homs, traditional in pharaonic 
literature and iconography, was emphasized just be 
fore the Ptolemaic period, when a temple was built 

Hercules. Relief from Ahnasiyah. Third century. 
Courtesy Coptic Museum, Cairo. 



Hercules pursuing a feminine personnage. Tapestry, 
from the yoke of a tunic containing this detail. Height 
15 cm; length: 35 cm. Courtesy Louvre Museum, Paris. 

to him in Khargah, and in the Ptolemaic period, as 
evidenced by his temple in Idfu. In the Roman and 
even the early Coptic period, the god, still falcon¬ 
headed, is shown as a foot soldier in a Roman 

An equestrian representation of Homs as a legion 
auxiliary, though remaining pagan, appears in relief 
on a late sixth-century fragment of an ornamental 
openwork sandstone window now in the Louvre. 
Probably the original window showed the whole 
story. In the fragment the mounted Horns appears 
in profile, still with a falcon's head, transfixing the 
Sethian crocodile with his lance. The pagan subject 
and the realistically rounded forms of the horse 
originally suggested a date in the third century. But 
the equestrian rank accorded to the god, at a period 
when it was denied to Copts, and the foreshorten¬ 
ing of the horse to flatten out the relief forms make 
the sixth-century date more plausible. The fragment 
may be compared with the mounted emperor Jus¬ 
tinian in the Barberini ivory of the middle or late 
sixth century now in the Louvre, which is more 
refined in material and more skillfully modeled, 
although showing a slightly mechanical classicism 

characteristic of Constantinopolitan work of that 
time. The significance of the fragment, the triumph 
of good over evil, was inspired by the victorious 
emperor. The fragment bears witness, as do other 
Coptic sculptures in different techniques, to the 
survival of some pagan Coptic centers in a largely 
Christian country. It probably came from a sanctu¬ 
ary of Horus in a small town, such as Jirja or Abu 
Qurqas, whose name was the origin of Jirjis, the 
Coptic form of "George.” Thus the pharaonic myth 
of Horus was assimilated into Christianity with the 
creation of the legend of Saint GEORGE, a martyr 
who rides on a horse and fights with a dragon. 


Boreaux, C. Guide sommaire, pp. 274-75. Ddparte- 
ment des antiquites egyptiennes. Paris, 1932. 
Bourguet, P. du. L'An copte, pp. 95-96, and pi. p. 

78. L'art dans le monde. Paris, 1968. 
Rutschowscaya, M.-II. La Sculpture copte, p. 4, ill. 
5. Petits guides des grands musics, no. 84. Mus6e 
du Louvre. Paris, 1981. 

Pierre du Bourguet, S. J. 


Jason was a legendary Greek hero who sailed in 
the Argo with the Argonauts to Colchis and brought 
the Golden Fleece and the witch princess Medea 
back to Greece. Three rectangular limestone panels 
are the only known examples of Coptic art devoted 
to the story of Jason. The most complete is in the 
William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art, Kansas 
City, Missouri. The other two, fragmentary, are 
known from photographs at Princeton University. 
According to M. Bell, the borders of florets or knot¬ 
ted ribbons and traces of detachment on one side 
indicate that these panels were originally in pairs 
and must have been attached to some surface, per¬ 
haps a wall. The figures, sculpted in low relief, form 
a lattice. Since the subject was widely used in fu¬ 
nerary art, the panels may have adorned the screen 
of a shrine sheltering a tomb. 

On the Kansas City panel, Jason tries to lay hold 
of the Golden Fleece, which is hanging from an 
oak. Near him, Medea, sitting on a throne, holds a 
branch of juniper in one hand and in the other the 
cup from which the serpent who guards the Fleece 
comes to drink, as described in Apollonius of 
Rhodes’ Argonautika. Jason is accompanied by an 
Argonaut holding a javelin, while two soldiers 
asleep in the lower part of the panel illustrate in 



sculpture the narrative as told by Diodorus Siculus 
(4. 48, 15). The right upper corner is occupied by 
the Argo wailing on the tide for the return of the 
Argonauts, while the left corner presents a bust, 
perhaps of the muse Calliope, veiled, reading a 
scroll. The same iconography appears on vases 
from Italy of the fourth century nc and, in the 
Roman period, on sarcophagi, gems, and a Campa¬ 
nian plaque in terra-cotta (in the British Museum, 
LoiuIoji) to which this panel is most closely similar. 

The second panel, of which only the upper half is 
preserved, presents the goddess Victory crowning 
some personage (lost) and a horseman, possibly 

The third panel illustrates the High! ol Jason and 
Medea presumably after the capture of the Golden 
h'leece. Only the busts of Jason and Medea remain, 
as well as the Argo in the upper right-hand corner 
and two guards in the left corner. 

The loss of classic proportions and the treatment 
of space without illusionist effect have led some 
scholars to compare these panels with the sculp¬ 
tures ol Alinas al-Madinah and Oxyrhyiu bus in the 
late fourth or early fifth century and to consider 
them as being of Egyptian manufacture. Their origi 
nality rests in their narrative character, rare on 
sculptures in stone but more Ircqucnl in fabrics or 
ivories, which may have served as models. 


Bell, M. "A Coptic Jason Relief.” Gesla, IMentation - 
al Center of Medieval Art 18 (!979):45-52. 
Weitzmann, K., ed. Age of Spirituality: Late Antique 
and Early Christian Art, Third to Seventh Century. 
Catalog of the Exhibition, no. 214. Metropolitan 
Museum of Art. New York, 1979. 



In Greek mythology Leda was a queen of Sparta 
who, beloved of Zeus in the form of a swan, be¬ 
came the mother of Helen of Troy. The theme of 
Leda and the swan appears on various relief sculp 
lures from Alinas al-Madinah or the Nilomcter ol 
Rodah. They arc all assigned to the fifth and sixth 
centuries because their crude appearance resem¬ 
bles the style of other works of the period. The 
coarse treatment of a pagan subject at such a late 
date is surprising in a period that we think of as 
predominantly Christian. Because the subject docs 
not admit of Christian symbolism and is not found 

after the sixth century, these reliefs probably be¬ 
longed to local pagan temples, where since the days 
of the Ptolemies the pharaonic gods were gradually 
replaced by Greco-Roman divinities. Such temples 
were swept clear by Christianity in the sixth century 
or abandoned in the seventh century alter the Mus 
lim conquest. 


Bourguet, P. du. l.'Art copte, p. 121. Collection I'Art 
dans le monde. Paris, 1968. 

Driolon, II. Les Sculptures copies du nilom'eirc de 
Rodah. Cairo, 1942. 

Remondon, R. " Egypt e Chreticnne." In Diction- 
tiaire de spirilualite, Vol. 4, pp. 532(1. Paris, 1959. 

Pier re du Bourguet. S.J. 


Nereids, in Greek mythology, were the daughters 
ol Nereus. a sea god. As maidens associated with 
water, they supply a lively motif in Coptic art. The 
cultural, political, and economic exchanges be¬ 
tween Rome and Alexandria and the common ele¬ 
ment of water in the Nile River and the seas around 
Greece certainly favored the popularity of the 
theme in Egypt. The Nereids appeared originally in 
mosaic lloors in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. 
Utter they are found in Coptic stone reliefs and in 
decorative tapestry orhicula (circles) and bands on 
tunics and hangings. They may be part of sea cycles 
involving Poseidon, lord of the sea; the Nereid The¬ 
tis; or Aphrodite Anadyomcne; or of river cycles 

Niche with decor representing a Nereid lying on the 
back of a sea creature. Third-fourth cent 1117 . Courte¬ 
sy Coptic Museum, Cairo. 



Nereid. Greco-Roman-style wool and linen tapestry. 
Third-fifth centuries. Courtesy The Cleveland Muse¬ 
um of Art, Purchase from the J . H. Wade Fund, 53.18. 

The Nile god. Tapestry. End of second century. 
Diameter: 25.5 cm. Courtesy Pushkin State Museum o/ 
Pine Arts, Moscow. Photo by M. Seidel. 

centering on the Nile or the Tiber. In the Nile 
cycles they are often confused with putli. Some¬ 
times they appear on their own and may offer a 
cup, suggesting a religious implication. 

As a pagan motif, Nereids survived in little pagan 
pockets right down to the last manifestations of 
Coptic art in the twelfth century. An especially fine 
tapestry panel from the seventh century is in the 
Cleveland Museum of Art. As a Christian motif, 
from the fifth to the twelfth century, Nereids are 
sometimes accompanied by a cross or are shown 
with a nimbus supporting a cross. Even if such an 
emblem is absent, it does not mean the motif is 
secular. Its Christian meaning remains implicit be¬ 
cause its reference to Aphrodite rising from the sea 
suggests the internal transformation of the soul in 
the water of baptism. 


Bourguet, P. du. Catalogue des etoffes copies, Vol. 
1, no. FI 67. Musee National du Louvre. Paris, 

- L'Art copte, pp. 140 ff., passim. Collection 

l'Art dans lc monde. Paris, 1968. 

Koptische Kunst. Christenlum am Nil. Catalog of the 
Exposition at Villa HUgel. Essen, 1963. 

Pierre du Bourguet, S.J. 

The Nile God 

The Egyptians have always seen a supernatural 
power in their life-giving river. Myths, legends, and 
festivals engendered by its yearly flooding have sur¬ 
vived the civilizations and religions adopted succes¬ 
sively by the country. During the pharaonic period, 
the Nile, the source of prosperity, was represented 
as plump tutelary spirits laden with gifts. Greco- 
Roman ail depicted it in the image of its river gods: 
as an old man, bearded, half-reclining, crowned 
with lotus, and holding a horn of plenty, an ear of 
corn, or a water plant. The goddess Euthenia and 
putti were associated with him. 

Coptic art, inspired by Greco-Roman iconogra¬ 
phy, has continued to use the Nile as a theme. 
Sometimes it is personified as an old man in a 
Nilotic setting. Me may be a bust, a full figure, or 
indolently lying down with a mantle draped over 
his legs and his nude torso emerging from it; he is 
crowned with aquatic plants, holds a horn of plen¬ 
ty, and may be accompanied by putti or a goddess. 
A few examples in various media survive. One is a 
tapestry medallion of the late second century in the 



Pushkin Museum. A carved capital of the third or 
fourth century from Ahnas al-Madlnah is a land¬ 
mark in the transition of the iconography from 
Greco-Roman to Coptic. The figure is still of an old 
man crowned with plants, holding a napkin, and 
flanked by putti, but its style, influenced by Palm- 
yran art, is Coptic in its frontal pose, decorative 
appearance of the diadem, and wide-open eyes in a 
disproportionate face. Another architectural sculp¬ 
ture of two centuries later, in the Brooklyn Muse¬ 
um, presents the Nile as an old man lying noncha¬ 
lantly among lotus blossoms, holds of flesh 
underline his chest, and his drapery evokes the 
course of the river. The decorative treatment of his 
crown recalls the earlier Nile on the capital, but 
the whole figure belongs to Coptic art. 

On an ivory pyx of the fourth or fifth century in 
the Wiesbaden Museum, the iconography is identi¬ 
cal, but the workmanship is finer because the mate¬ 
rial is softer. In two tapestry orbiculu in the Louvre, 
the Nile is executed in the style of sixth-century 
Coptic fabrics. Finally, a seventh-century wall paint¬ 
ing discovered at Kellia shows a man half-lying on 
an overturned amphora; the inscription suggests 
that he may be a new allegory of the Nile. Thus the 
image of the Nile god, having become a simple 
allegory of the prosperity dispensed by the flood, 
was kept for its decorative value by artists who 
wished to enrich the Nilotic evocations s<> highly 
prized by Coptic art. 


Andreux, G., and R.-G. Coquin. “Septi&me cam- 
pagne de fouilles aux Kellia." Bulletin de I’Institut 
franvais d'ArcheoIogie orientals 81 (1981): I74-75, 
and fig. 5(c). 

Badawy, A. Coptic Art and Archaeology. Cambridge, 
Mass., and London, 1978. 

Pfister, R. "Nil, nilometre et Porientation du pay- 
sage helldnistique." Revue des arts asiatiques 7 
(1931): 120—40. 

Dominique Benazeth 

W Nilotic Scenes 

In contrast to the sun, a permanent and unchang¬ 
ing source of light and heat in Egypt, the Nile from 
the beginning has dispensed benefits only through 
human collaboration. The Ptolemaic and Roman 
governments in turn recognized the river god and 
took careful account of the seasonal rise and fall of 
the river measured on a Nilometer. The Copts were 
no less aware of the importance of the river and its 

The Nile god. Limestone relief. Fourth century. Cour¬ 
tesy Museum of Fine Arts, Brooklyn. 

god and, like the pagans, paid him their respects. 
This interest in the river naturally passed into Egyp¬ 
tian art. 

During the Roman period when Greco-Roman 
themes generally replaced pharaonic themes, the 
range of subjects involving the Nile continued to 
appear in art. Alexandria profoundly influenced the 
art of the Mediterranean basin, and Roman art in¬ 
fluenced that of Alexandria. For example, Nilotic 
scenes notably provide the subject matter for a fa¬ 
mous mosaic in Palestrina, Italy. The river god is 
pictured with Romanized features. An expanse of 
water represents his Egyptian domain and is 
crossed by putti guiding small boats. Other putti 
ride marine animals and chase aquatic birds in the 
intense abundance of life that enlivens the river and 
the vegetation it creates far beyond its banks. 

Coptic art does not conceive whole panoramas of 
this kind. It is satisfied either to borrow isolated 
details, such as one or several Nereids in a specific 
scene, or to use Nereids and putti for decoration to 
accompany a portrait or a mythological scene used 
as a central motif. The putti often mingle with the 
Nereids, taking on feminine characteristics. The 
greatest variety prevails, outdoing Pompeiian fres¬ 
coes in inventive capacity. Such treatment of the 
theme may be seen in Coptic carved reliefs and in 
tapestry or boucl£ decorations on shawls, tunics, or 
cushion covers, where the narrow shapes of the 
orbicuia, squares, and bands required restrained 

The stylistic treatment of the figures evolved from 
the picturesque realism of Hellenistic Alexandria to 
a deformed schematization from the sixth to the 
twelfth century. The loss of realism may be due to 
carelessness or the routine repetition required by a 


Square ornamented with pulti swimming or boating. 
Tapestry. Antinog (?). Sixth century. Length: 30 cm; 
width: 28 cm. Courtesy Louvre Museum. Paris. 

craft, but it is most often the result of the search for 
imaginative ornamentation that is peculiar to Cop¬ 
tic art. The figures may be used purely decoratively, 
without thought of their former mythological sig¬ 
nificance. or they may convey some sense of an¬ 
cient magic power, or they may have taken on 
Christian symbolism. The processions of Nereids 
and putti may be linked with Aphrodite Ana- 
dyomenc, symbolizing rebirth of the soul in the 
waters of baptism, or with Dionysus, patron of the 
vine, who was assimilated to the Christ as the True 


Bourguet, P. du. L'Art copte. Paris, 1968. 

Pierre du Bourguet, S.J. 

Pastoral Scenes 

Bucolic or pastoral poetry was a creation of the 
Hellenistic age, beginning in Greek with Theocritus 
and then Longus, and in Latin, with Virgil. The 
taste in Hellenistic art for genre figures, such as 
market women, foreigners, and cripples, and for 
individualized portraits expresses this literary tradi¬ 

tion by showing the same new interest in nature. 
Roman art, particularly North African mosaics, con¬ 
tinued to draw subject matter from it. 

Although pagan iconography in Coptic art con¬ 
sists chiefly of Dionysian motifs, a few representa¬ 
tions reflect the pastoral literary tradition. Pastoral 
images are related to representations of specific 
mythological events or personages. 

A silver dish from Thebes, which may have been 
made at Alexandria (dated to the fifth or sixth cen¬ 
tury but possibly a little earlier), exemplifies bucol¬ 
ic scenes in Coptic art. On it a shepherdess with 
her child on her back and carrying a basket of fruit 
directs a flock of sheep led by a goat, in a landscape 
with simple buildings and a sheepdog. A similar 
expression of Alexandrian style is seen on a frag¬ 
mentary ivory carving from Ramlah showing car¬ 
penters at work, which expresses the interest in 
nature and eveiyday life that accompanies the de¬ 
velopment of the literary pastoral tradition. 

The Coptic continuation of bucolic iconography 
is better represented in textiles. Notable is an in¬ 
complete set of tapestry ornaments in muted col¬ 
ors, cut from a wool fabric, one of which belongs 
to the Cluny Museum in Paris, the others to the 
Brooklyn Museum. They depict scenes of shep¬ 
herds, old and young, caring for sheep and cattle, 
preparing food, and drawing water in the company 
of women and children (one a Nubian boy), dogs, 
and flute players. These ornaments are an astonish¬ 
ing witness to the influence of book illustrations of 
the period in this classicizing tradition. They are 
datable to the fifth to sixth centuries on the basis of 
comparisons with other objects. A large linen-and- 
wool tapestry square in the St. Louis Art Museum 
showing an old man milking a goat in a vine arbor, 
though influenced by Dionysian iconography in its 
use of the vine, is another bucolic scene. It may 
date from the fifth century. A small number of tap¬ 
estry tunic ornaments of the fifth century and later 
show scenes of peasant life, including a mother and 
child, flute players, a peasant bearing a yoke, a 
milking scene, and women feeding chickens. The 
iconography of even these tunic ornaments is not 
always purely bucolic. The influence of mythology 
can be seen in the man striking the serpent, a motif 
inspired by the labor of Hercules in which he killed 
the serpent guarding the golden apples of the Hes- 

On many more common textiles, the representa¬ 
tions of musicians have been so much influenced 
by Dionysian iconography that even flute players 
cannot be taken as having bucolic significance. In 



the same way, putti with clucks or animals are usu¬ 
ally comparable in pose to putti in marine scenes. 
Even the rare representations of shepherds carrying 
sheep may have been influenced by Orphic mythol¬ 

It is clear, therefore, that pastoral scenes with an 
undoubted claim to being in the true Hellenistic 
literary tradition are very rare in Coptic art in all 


Beckwith, J. Coptic Sculpture, 300 1300. London, 

Thompson, I). Coptic Textiles in the Brooklyn Muse¬ 
um, pp. 18, 48-49. Brooklyn. N.Y., 1971. 
Weilzmann, K., ed. Age of Spirituality: Tate Antique 
and Early Christian Art. Third to Seventh Century, 
nos. 227-30, 231, 232, 235. Catalog of the Exhibi¬ 
tion, Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 

DiiiioKAii Thompson 

The Seasons 

The theme of the seasons suggested the cosmic 
cycle of the year and soon became symbolic of 
eternity. It appears in Greco-Roman art in busts in 
I’ompeii in the lirst century. Christians later used 
the theme to evoke eternity in its fullest, spiritual 
sense. The theme appears in the form of a pullo or 
his head often surrounded by plants in wall paint¬ 
ings in the Roman catacombs of the Early Christian 
period. The Copts used the theme in two variants. 
The more common is heads of putti inspired bv the 
catacomb putti woven in boucle (looped pile) me 
dallions of the fourth century in the Louvre and the 
Museum ol the Arts. Lyons. The heads are full-face 
Or three-quarter view in colors, unlike the mosaics 
of the period. 

The second variant, of which there is only one 
example, is found in two tapestry fragments in the 
Louvre that formed part of a set of decorations on 
the front and back of a tunic. They consist of two 
haloed allegorical figures representing winter and 
spring. Winter, warmly clad in a mantle with a 
hood, holds a small bottle and a rod. Near its head 
is a duck, head downward, no doubt symbolizing 
hunting. The second figure has arms and shoulders 
bare and is lifting up its headdress with the aid of a 
blossoming branch. These fragments are notewor¬ 
thy because each figure is accompanied by a Coptic 
inscription "winter" and "spring." Thus they can be 
placed in a series of representations of the seasons. 

Fragment of a tunic decoration. Ornamented bands 
and orbicula depicting winter and spring in the form 
ol a bust of a woman. Tapestry. Fifth century. Diame¬ 
ter of the medallions: 8 cm. Courtesy Louvre Museum, 

Their cast ol countenance and the form of their eye 
sockets suggests a fifth-century date. 


Bourguct, P. du. Catalogue des etoffes copies, Vol. 
I. Musee National du Louvre. Paris, 1964. 

- La Peinture pale ochre tienne, Paris, 1964. 

Hanfmann, G. M. A. The Season Sarcophages in 
Dumbarton Oaks. Cambridge, Mass., 1931. 
Turcan, R. Les Sarcophages a representations ilio- 
nysiaques. Paris, 1966. 



In Greek mythology, Thetis was a Nereid who 
was the mother of the hero Achilles. Although 
Nereids appear frequently in Coptic sculpture and 
textiles, Thetis is a rare subject. The only figure that 
may be securely identified as Thetis exists in a 
small Coptic textile, in the Victoria and Albert Mu¬ 
seum. Woven in purple wool on linen, the panel is 
close in style and format to a roundel of Iphigcnia 



Thetis in the forge of Hephaestus. Tapestry. Sixth 
century. Each side: 12.5 cm. Courtesy Victoria anti 
Albert Museum, I.tuition. 

in the State Museum, Frankfurt, and probably dates 
from the sixth century. The London textile repre¬ 
sents Thetis at the forge of the blacksmith god He¬ 
phaestus, as he makes new armor for Achilles, an 
episode in Book 18 of Homer’s Iliad. The figures of 
Thetis and Hephaestus are drawn from familiar Hel¬ 
lenistic types, known through Roman leplicas in 
Pompeian frescoes. The inclusion of the nude figure 
of Achilles is conflated from another version repre¬ 
sented on Roman sarcophagi and wall paintings in 
the Casa dei Dioscuri in Pompeii. The Homeric im¬ 
age, however, has been transformed into a Coptic 
expression of eschatological belief appropriate to its 
function as an ornament on a burial tunic or a 
shroud. Based on the Aetheiopis, an ancient epic 
cycle, the portrait in a medallion suspended from a 
tree introduces a symbolic allusion to the immor¬ 
tality of Achilles by representing the helmeted hero 
apotheosized on his shield after death. In this typi¬ 
cal sixth-century pastiche, elements of the- Homeric 
epic have been transformed into a Coptic allegory 
of heroic immortality assured by the Nereid Thetis 
for her son. 

Lewis, S. "A Coptic Representation of Thetis at the 
Forge of Hephaistos." American Journal of Ar¬ 
chaeology 77 (1973):309-318. 

Suzanne Lewis 

The Three Graces 

In Greek mythology, the Three Graces are daugh¬ 
ters of Zeus who personify beauty in its inward and 
outward form. They are often attendants on the 
goddess Aphrodite. Their name in Greek, Kharites 
("graces”), is a word rich in Christian meaning. The 
subject could have been adopted by Christian Copts 
but seems only to have been used by pagan Copts. 

A wooden casket covered with a thin sheet of 
embossed bronze now in the Coptic Museum de¬ 
picts three personages associated with Aphrodite, 
along with gorgon heads, Isis suckling Homs, and 
Aphrodite standing beneath an arcade. .1. 
Strzygowski (1904) considers this a Coptic work 
from Akhmim. Although the casket is akin to simi¬ 
lar examples in the Egyptian Museum, Berlin; the 
Greco-Roman Museum, Alexandria; Museum ol 
Fine Ails, Budapest; and the Capiloline Museum in 
Rome, it is typically Alexandrian in style. The pro¬ 
portions of the bodies remain normal, even if there 
is less respect for the modeling of the limbs, char¬ 
acteristic of a period of decadence. There are none 
of the conscious deformations characteristic of 
Coptic art. The casket must consequently date from 
the seventh century. 

A tapestry orbiculum, possibly from the same pe¬ 
riod as the casket, presents the Three Graces in 
carmine red on a vermilion background between 
carmine borders. Here they are crowned with a 
diadem and the heads and legs are turned to the 
opposite side from that on the embossed bronze 
casket in Cairo. The features of the faces in profile, 
through the use of the flying shuttle, are a little 
twisted; the waists are low and the legs are short. 
The treatment is not elegant or pretentious. Al¬ 
though no doubt this was not intended, it attracts 
one's attention and even provokes some amuse¬ 
ment. These are all characteristics of Coptic art. 



Dwyer, F.. W. "Narrative and Allegory in a Coptic 
Textile." American Journal of Archaeology 78 

Bourguet, P. du. Catalogue ties etoffes copies, Vol. 

1. Musec National du Louvre. Paris, 1964. 
Strzygowski, J. Koptische Kunst. Vienna, 1904. 

Pierre dij Bourguet. S..I. 

NABARtJH, town in the Egyptian Delta located 
about 5 miles (8 km) northwest of al-Mansurah in 
the Gharbiyyah province. 

Nabaruh first took on importance for Christians 
during the patriarchate of mark n (799- 819) when 
a certain Macarius who administered the district of 
Sakha urged 'Abd al-Aziz to write to Patriarch Mark 
bidding him to establish his residence in Nabaruh. 
The letter was written and Mark acceded to Macari¬ 
us’ wishes. Nabaruh received the patriarch with due 
respect and Mark resided there in the church dedi¬ 
cated to Macarius from Wadi Habib until his death. 
Other attestations of Christianity in Nabaruh are 
lacking, but there is still a Coptic church in the 


Timm, S. Das christlich-koptische Agypten in arahi- 
scher Zeit, pt. 4, pp. 1718-19. Wiesbaden, 1988. 

Randall Stewart 

NABDUNAH, Coptic woman known from a single 
manuscript (National Library, Paris, Arabe 4887, 
fols. 41 v-48r). The daughter of a king Ya’qub, she 
wore masculine garments and became a monk in 
the monastery of Saint Macarius (dayr anua maoAr). 
We do not know at what period she lived. 


Troupeau, G. Catalogue dcs man user its arabes, Vol. 
2. Paris, 1974. 

Ren&Georges Coquin 

NABIS, fourth-fifth-century bishop of 'Aydhab. The 
commemoration of Bishop Nabis in the Arabic Syn- 
axarion of the Copts on 22 Kiyahk provides the only 
piece of evidence of an episcopate situated on the 
coast of the Red Sea. This Arabic text bears all the 
indications of a translation from the Coptic. The 
"scala copte 44" identifies 'Aydhfib with Berenice 
in Nubia (Munier, 1930). 

J. Muyser was inclined to believe that Bishop 
Nabis lived between the seventh and tenth centur¬ 
ies (Muyser, 1944). Nabis was born in a village near 
Coptos (Gift) and became a monk at an early age. 
The compiler of the Synaxarion tells us that he was 
found worthy of the episcopal dignity over the 
churches of 'Aydhab, "for our fathers held this seat 
from the beginning, so that merchants and sailors 
who voyaged over the Red Sea could receive com¬ 
munion there." Bishop Nabis did not reside in 'Ay¬ 
dhab but in a small church at Coptos. He sent one 
priest and one deacon to 'Aydhab. When it was 
necessary for the bishop to go there himself, the 
bfja, a tribe that lived in Nubia and the Eastern 
Desert in Upper Egypt, carried him and the church 
ornaments on their camels, receiving a price for 
the hire of their beasts. 

Three bishops are mentioned in the Synaxarion 
as contemporaries of Nabis: "The fathers, the bish¬ 
ops who lived during his time, asked him often to 
gather with them in the Cathedral. Those were An- 
ba Phoibammon, who is indeed worthy of mention, 
AnbA John, and Anba Papnoute." Since the resi¬ 
dence of Bishop Nabis was in Coptos, the episco¬ 
pates of these three bishops must have been located 
in that same part of southern Upper Egypt. A cer¬ 
tain bishop of Hermonthis (Armant) named John 



was consecrated by Patriarch theophilus (385— 
412); Papnoutc, bishop of Qus, also lived at that 
time (Gabra, 1983, 1986). The third bishop, Phoi- 
bammon, is among the bishops who participated in 
the Council of EPHESUS in 431 (Municr, 1943). Thus 
Nabis must have lived in the fourth/fifth century. 
According to the Synaxarion. his episcopal ministry 
lasted forty years, and he died when he was ninety 
years of age. 

The commemoration of Nabis in the Synaxarion 
is important in that it provides evidence concerning 
a bishop who had to deal with different groups of 
people having varying interests. The first were the 
Beja (Blemmyes), who often attacked Egypt and 
made the flow of trade between the Red Sea and 
Coptos unsafe. Significantly, Bishop Nabis had con¬ 
siderable contact with them long before the spread 
of Christianity throughout Nubia. The second group 
were the military representatives of the late Roman 
Empire. The third group consisted of merchants 
and sailors. Moreover, the bishop took care of the 
congregation of his own diocese. The relatively 
long text about Nabis differs from other texts of the 
Synaxarion in that it preserves the characteristics of 
an encomium (Gabra, 1986). 

Gabra, G. "Zu einem arabischen Bericht Ubcr 
Pcsyntheus, einen Heiligen aus Hermonthis im 
4.-5. Jh." Bulletin dc la Societe d'archcologic 
copte 25 (1983):54—57. 

-"Bemerkungen zu den Aussagen des ara¬ 
bischen Synaxars der Kopten Uber Nabis. den Bi- 
schof von 'Aidhab.'" In Proceedings of the Fifth 
International Conference of Nubian Studies , ed. 
M. Krause, pp. 231-36. Mainz, 1986. 

Garcin, J.-C. On centre musulman de la Ilaute- 
Egypte medievale: Qus, pp. 31-34. Cairo, 1976. 
Meinardus, O. "A Comparative Study on the Sourc¬ 
es of the Synaxarium of the Coptic Church." Bul¬ 
letin de la Societe d'archeologie copte 17 (1963- 
1964): 111 -56. 

Municr, H. La sc ala copte 44 de la Bibliotheque 
nationale de Paris, Vol. I, Transcription, p. 162, 
no. 44. Cairo, 1930. 

- Recueil des listes episcopates de I’eglise 

copte, p. 14, no. 7. Cairo, 1943. 

Muyser, J. "Contribution a I’etude de listes episco- 
pales de I'eglise copte." Bulletin de la Societe 
d’archeologie copte 10 (1944): 137-38. 

Gawdat Gabra 

NABRAHA, SAINT, a fourth-century confessor 
who was tortured under Diocletian but survived, 

was sent into exile, and became an ascetic (feast 
day: 8 Abib). He is not in the Copto-Arabic synaxar¬ 
ion. and his Passion has survived only in a damaged 
Sahidic codex of the ninth century in the Egyp¬ 
tian Museum, Cairo (Hamuli E.), published by H. 
Munier (1918). He is one of the very few confessors 
who survived until the reign of CONSTANTINE. 

The text opens with the edict of Diocletian sent to 
the prefect arianus in Egypt instructing him to 
force the Christians to sacrifice to the pagan gods. 
Nabraha comes forward confessing his faith and 
refusing to sacrifice; he is therefore sentenced to 
death. The devil appears and tries to discourage 
him. Then follows his confrontation with the pre¬ 
fect and subsequent tortures. Both heavenly appari¬ 
tions (Raphael, Jesus) and diabolical ones appear 
during his tortures. At a certain moment Arianus 
has to leave for the south, and he decides to take 
Nabraha with him to Antinoopolis. During the jour¬ 
ney Nabraha performs a miracle aboard the ship 
they are traveling on. In prison at Antinoopolis, he 
cures the warden's son of an ailment. In the law 
court, in the course of renewed tortures, once 
again he has the vision of Jesus, who makes it clear 
to him that a sanctuary will be erected in his name. 
This seems to be the main reason for which the text 
was written. At last Arianus decides lo send Nabra¬ 
ha to exile. The text ends with the death of 
Diocletian and Maximianus and the accession of 
Constantine to the throne, leading to the release 
of Nabraha from prison. Thereafter he becomes 
an ascetic until his death. 

The writing of the text is very careless and it 
must be dated toward the end of the original Coptic 
hagiographic activity (eighth century; sec hagiogra¬ 
phy). Moreover it must have been conceived in a 
suburban area, since it does not belong to any cycle 
and, as we said before, it has not been accepted in 
the Synaxarion. 


Munier, H. "Un Nouveau martyre copte, Saint Na¬ 
braha." Bulletin de Tlnstitut franqais d’Arch- 
eologie orientate 14 (1918):97-190. 

Tito Orlandi 

NAG HAMMADI, town in Upper Egypt in the 
province of Qina that has become famous for the 
discovery there in 1945 of the Coptic-Gnostic codi¬ 
ces that launched a new era in Coptic studies (see 
NAG HAMMADI library). The town, situated on the 



west bank of the Nile some 50 miles (80 km) south¬ 
east of Suhaj, has no Christian tradition apart from 
its relatively recent fame. 

Randall Stewart 

NAG HAMMADI LIBRARY, thirteen ancient 
papyrus codices translated from Greek into Coptic, 
accidentally discovered in December 1945 by farm¬ 
ers in Upper Egypt. They contain forty-live distinct 
works, including our chief sources of first-hand 
knowledge of GNOSTICISM. Although the details of 
the discovery have remained unverified, despite ar¬ 
chaeological investigation, there is little reason to 
doubt the eyewitness reports that the books were 
found in a ceramic jar hidden at the Jabal al-Tarif, a 
section of the eastern wall of the Nile Valley near 
the modern village of Hamrah Dum. There are no 
traces of ancient habitation in the immediate vicini¬ 
ty of this site, except for about 150 pharaonic tombs 
cut into the cliff face. Some of these tombs contain 
evidence of use during the Greco-Roman period 
and later. It is not known who originally owned the 
codices or why they were thus hidden. Hence, 
whether or not they should be regarded as an an¬ 
cient "library" is also a matter of dispute. 

Chenoboskeion (Chenoboskia), the town nearest 
the burial site at the time the codices were written, 
has been used by some scholars and bibliographers 
to name the collection. But it is standard now to 
refer to the codices by the name of the largest 
modern city in the area, Nag Hammadi. The indi¬ 
vidual codices are referred to with the abbrevia¬ 
tions NHC (Nag Hammadi Codex) or simplv NH or, 
less commonly, CG (Cairensis Gnosticus). I he stan¬ 
dard numeration of the codices is that established 
by the ARE-UNESCO Facsimile Edition, though sev¬ 
eral other numbering systems have also been used. 

The Nag Hammadi codices are currently the 
property of three institutions. The bulk of the col¬ 
lection is kept at the Coptic Museum in Cairo (Nos. 
4851, 10544-55, 10589, 10590, 11597, and 11640), 
which began to acquire them in 1946. For a time, 
part of Codex I was the property of the psychologist 
C. G. Jung, and it is also known as the Jung Codex. 
Jung's heirs returned his portion to Egypt, where it 
joined the rest of the collection in the Coptic Muse¬ 
um. The leather cover of Codex I, together with the 
scrap papyrus (cartonnage) that lined it, is owned 
by the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity in 
Claremont, California. Part of one leaf of Codex III 
(pp. 145-46) is owned by the Beinecke Library, 


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Nag Hammadi Library. Codex II. Upper part: End of 
the Apocrypha of John. Lower part: Beginning of the 
Gospel of Thomas. Courtesy Coptic Museum, Cairo. 

Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (Yale 
1784). It is possible that other parts of the collec¬ 
tion survive elsewhere, awaiting identification. 

Beginning in the late 1950s, the Coptic Museum, 
with the help of the German Institute of Archeology 
in Cairo, undertook to conserve the manuscripts by 
taking apart each codex and placing the leaves and 
fragments between panes of acrylic plastic. During 
the following decade, these acrylic frames were 
photographed, under the auspices of the United Na¬ 
tions Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organiza¬ 
tion (UNESCO), with a view toward publishing a 
complete photographic facsimile edition. * During 



ihe 1970s a UNESCO International Committee for 
the Nag Harnmadi Codices was formed to oversee 
the work on the manuscripts. James M. Robinson, 
secretary of the UNESCO committee, also organized 
and directed two other projects that facilitated the 
committee’s work: the Coptic (inostic Library Proj¬ 
ect of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity 
and the Nag llammadi Codices Editing Project of 
the American Research Center in Egypt. The latter 
project was designed primarily to conserve the 
manuscripts, a painstaking task that it successfully 
concluded in 1978. 

The original sequence of the pages in each codex 
was determined with only a few uncertainties, and 
hundreds of fragments were restored to their prop¬ 
er positions. Seven hundred and thirteen inscribed 
fragments remain unplaced, but most of these are 
veiy small. Robinson's team also reconscrvcd the 
manuscripts, mounting the carefully repaired sheets 
between panes of acrylic plastic of a uniform size. 
These frames are now stored in two specially de¬ 
signed cabinets. The unplaced fragments, carton- 
nage, and leather covers were included in the con¬ 
servation. This reconstruction is recorded in the 
ARE-UNESCO Facsimile Edition. 

The manuscripts had suffered a good deal of de¬ 
terioration, both before or during their interment 
and after their discovery. What survive are exten¬ 
sive remains of eleven papyrus books in codex form 
with leather covers (Codices I—XI); eight leaves (as 
well as two large fragments that probably represent 
two further leaves) of a twelfth codex, the bulk and 

H ktotto ceruuAY' Xe+1 n g 
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Nag Harnmadi Library. From Codex III. Courtesy 
Coptic Museum, Cairo. 

leather cover of which are assumed to have been 
lost since the discovery (Codex XII); and eight 
leaves (Codex XIII) that had been removed in an¬ 
tiquity from a thirteenth codex and laid inside the 
front cover of Codex VI. 

The original extent of the collection may be cal¬ 
culated at a minimum of 1,240 inscribed pages. Of 
these pages 1,156 are currently represented by at 
least a fragment. The major loss (estimated at at 
least 51 pages) is from Codex XII alone. While 
Codices I III, VI, VII, and XIII contain many com¬ 
plete or nearly complete leaves, Codices IV, V, and 
VIII XII are fragmentary enough that comprehen¬ 
sion of the texts contained in them is severely ham¬ 
pered. Throughout the collection there are some 
passages of text that are now preserved only, or 
sometimes preserved best, in photographs. 

The Nag llammadi codices contain fifty-one texts. 
Some of these are copies or variant versions of 
other texts in the collection, so that there are actu¬ 
ally only forty-five distinct works, thirty-six of which 
were previously unknown in any form. In addition, 
traces of at least two further texts arc recognizable 
in Codices 1 and XII. The number of texts pet- 
codex varies from one (Codex X) to eight (Codex 
VI). All the texts were originally composed in 
Creek, at different times (mostly during the first 
four centuries of the Christian era) and in various 
parts ol the Mediterranean world. They were trans¬ 
lated into Coptic, presumably during the fourth 
century or slightly earlier. Although some of the 
texts were translated into a variety of the Lycopol 
itan dialect (Codices I. X, and the fiist two texts in 
XI), most were translated into the Sahidic dialect, 
with varying degrees of deviation from what is gen¬ 
erally recognized as the classical standard. None of 
the Nag llammadi Codices contains the first Coptic 
copy of a text. Rather they are a compilation of 
later copies, the work of as many as fourteen or 
possibly as few as eight scribes. The quality of the 
copies varies, as does the quality of the original 
translations, so far as this can be judged. 

Each ol the Nag Harnmadi Codices, except Codex 
I (and possibly also Codices XII and XIII, where 
the surviving codicological evidence is inconclu¬ 
sive), was made up of a single quire. A single stack 
ol papyrus sheets was folded down the middle and 
then sewn at the fold to a leather cover. In detail, 
however, the method of manufacture varies from 
codex to codex. Codex 1 stands apart in that it 
consists of three quires. The front and back covers 
of each codex were lined with scrap papyrus glued 
together to form a kind of cardboard. When re- 



moved, much of this cartonnage was found to be 
inscribed in both Coptic and Greek. One of several 
dated texts used in the cover of Codex VII indicates 
that it was manufactured sometime after a.d. 348. 
Various documents used in the covers of Codices I, 
V, VII, and XI mention places in the Nag Hammadi 
region. It is generally assumed that all of the Nag 
Hammadi Codices were produced in the latter half 
of the fourth century, somewhere in the area sur¬ 
rounding the site of their discovery. They are 
among the oldest well-preserved books in codex 
form to have survived the centuries. 

[See also: Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles; 
Allogenes; Apocalypse of Adam; Apocalypse of 
James, First; Apocalypse of James, Second; Apoca¬ 
lypse of Paul; Apocalypse of Peter; Apociyphon of 
James; Apocryphon of John; Asclepius 21-29; Au- 
thentikos Logos; Book of Thomas the Contender; 
Concept of Our Great Power; Dialogue of the Sav¬ 
ior; Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth; Hugnostos 
the Blessed and the Sophia of Jesus Christ; Exegesis 
on the Soul; Gospel of Philip; Gospel of the Egyp¬ 
tians; Gospel of Thomas; Gospel of Truth; Hyposta¬ 
sis of the Archons; Hypsiphrone; Interpretation of 
Knowledge; Letter of Peter to Philip; Melchizedek; 
On the Origin of the World; Paraphrase of Shorn; 
Plato's Republic; Prayer of Thanksgiving; Prayer of 
the Apostle Paul; Second Treatise of the Great Seth; 
Sentences of Sextus; Teachings of Silvanus; Three 
Steles of Seth; Thunder, Perfect Mind; Treatise on 
the Resurrection; Trimorphic Protennoia; Tripartite 
Tractate; Valentinian Exposition; Zostrianus.] 


Emmel, S. "Unique Photographic Evidence for Nag 
Hammadi Texts." bulletin of the American Society 
of Papyrologists 14 (1977):109-21; 15 (1978):195- 
205, 251-61; 16 (1979): 179-91. 263-75; 17 
(1980): 143—44. 

_"The Nag Hammadi Codices Editing Proj¬ 
ect: A Final Report." American Research Center 
in Egypt Newsletter 104 (1978): 10-32. 

Facsimile Edition of the Nag Hammadi Codices, pub¬ 
lished under the auspices of the Department of 
Antiquities of the Arab Republic of Egypt in con¬ 
junction with the United Nations Educational, 
Scientific and Cultural Organization, 12 vols. Lei¬ 
den, 1972-1984. 

Robinson, J. M. "From the Cliff to Cairo: The Story 
of the Discoverers and Middlemen of the Nag 
Hammadi Codices." In Colloque international sur 
les textes de Nag Hammadi (Quebec, 22 -25 aout 
1978), ed. B. Bare. Bibliotheque coptc de Nag 
Hammadi, Section "Etudes," vol. 1, pp. 21-58. 
Quebec and Louvain, 1981. 

Scholer, D. M. Nag Hammadi Bibliography 1948- 
1969. Nag Hammadi Studies 1. Leiden, 1971. 
Supplemented annually in the autumn issue of 
Novum Testamentum, beginning with Vol. 13 

Stephen Emmel 

NAGUIB MAHFOUZ (1882-1972), pioneer of 
gynecology and obstetrics. He was born at al- 
Mansurah, Egypt, the youngest son of a family of 
eight. At the age of sixteen he entered the Egyptian 
School of Medicine at Qasr al-'Aynl, from which he 
graduated four year’s later in 1902. Appointed an¬ 
aesthetist in his early career, he later decided to 
specialize in obstetrics. An exchange of visits be¬ 
tween him and surgeons in Europe brought him to 
the limelight. He headed several departments of 
gynecology in Cairo’s major hospitals. In 1914 he 
was appointed head surgeon in the Qasr al-'Ayni 
hospital. Later he was entrusted with the establish¬ 
ment of the first outpatient gynecological clinic in 
that hospital as well as a child welfare section. To 
him is also attributed the establishment of the 
school of nursing. During his long years of teaching 
and research he collected a vast number of disease 
specimens that he presented to his school in 1929 
on the occasion of its centenary. They became the 
Mahfouz Obstetric and Gynecological Museum. He 
received many honorary degrees from Europe and 
America. In 1942 the honorary fellowship of the 
Royal College of Surgeons was awarded to him 
along with Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of 

His principal works are The Life of an Egyptian 
Doctor (Edinburgh and London, 1966); The History 
of Medical Education in Egypt (Cairo, 1935); Atlas of 
Mahfouz’s Obstetric and Gynaecological Museum (3 
vols., London, 1949); Art of Midwifery (in Arabic, 
Cairo, 1933); Elementary Gynaecology (in Arabic, Cai¬ 
ro, 1927); and Practical Gynaecology (in Arabic, 
Cairo, 1927). 

Sophy al-Bayadi 

NAJ' AL-DAYR. See Dayr al-Shahld Phlluthawaus. 

NAJ' AL-HAJAR, site on the east bank of the 
Nile about 10 miles (15 km) north of Aswan. A few 
years ago in the course of excavations carried out 
by the Egyptian Antiquities Organization in the area 
between the edge of the town and the bank of the 

1774 NAOS 

Nile, ruins of a Roman camp were discovered. They 
can be dated, on the basis of a few inscribed blocks 
of stone found on the site, to the first century a.d„ 
the period of the emperor Vespasian. On the west 
side there came to light a fine gate Hanked by semi¬ 
circular towers and decorated with engaged col¬ 

In the early Christian period, after the abandon¬ 
ment of the camp, a small basilica was erected. A 
section of the apse and a number of column bases 
were found in situ in the southwest corner. The 
walls were constructed first of fired bricks but later 
of hewn stone. In front of the apse was the presby¬ 
tery, which probably accommodated the altar. It 
extended to the first (eastern) pair of columns, and 
was surrounded by lateral walls, with cancelli at the 
front. A small annex building on the northwest cor¬ 
ner with a crux monogram mat ica in the floor pre¬ 
sumably contained a tomb. 

Peter Grossmann 

NAOS. See Architectural Elements of Churches. 

NAQADAH. [This city in Upper Egypt is situated 
on the west bank of the Nile opposite Qus in the 
province of Qinfi. This entry discusses the geography 
and the scant archaeological remains .j 


Although ample attestation exists to show that 
Naqadah was the seat of a bishop, it is not known 
when the city first became a bishopric. The synax 
ARION commemorates a Bishop Michael from 
Naqadah on 22 Baramhat, but it gives no indication 
when this bishop lived. The next bishop of Naqadah 
attested in extant sources did not live until the 
sixteenth century. However, the evidence for this 
bishop is ambiguous. In a list of bishops from the 
year 1508 we find a Bishop Basilius of Qus and 
Naqadah as well as a Bishop Gabriel of the same 
cities (Muyser, 1944, pp. 162-63). It is not clear 
why the list names two bishops of the same area. 

In the fifteenth century al-MAORlZl listed four- 
churches for Naqadah without specifying whether 
they were located in Naqadah itself or simply with¬ 
in the environs of the city: a church of the Virgin, a 
church of John the Baptist, a church of Gabriel, 
and a church of John the Compassionate (1845, p. 


Muyser. J. “Contribution a I'etude des listes 6pis- 
copales de I'eglise copte." Bulletin de la Societe 
d’archeologie copte 10 (1944): 115-76. 

Timm, S. Das christlich-koptische A gyp ten in arabi • 
scher Zeit. Wiesbaden, 1988. 

Randall Stewart 


No medieval churches have been preserved in 
Naqadah. On the edge of the desert there arc three 
monasteries—Dayr al-Gizfiz, Dayr al-Majma', Dayr 
al-Salib—in which some medieval remains of build¬ 
ings arc still contained, at least in part, or were 
visible to earlier travelers. 


Meinardus, O. Christian Egypt, Ancient and Modern. 
Cairo, 1965. 

Petf.r Grossmann 

NAQlZAH, town in the province of Gharbiyyah. 
abO ai.makAkim. in his description of the churches 
and monasteries of Lower Egypt, situates al Na- 
qlzah a monastery, the lofty buildings of which 
could be seen from Damielta. He indicates its posi¬ 
tion as “near the salt sea, to the east of Nastarawah 
[al-Burullus]." He adds that a monk named CHRIS- 
todoulus lived there secluded in a cell, and in it 
was the body of Saint THECLA, the disciple of the 
apostle Paul. This recluse became the sixty-sixth 
patriarch of Alexandria (1047-1077). This last re¬ 
mark is certainly borrowed from the HISTORY oi« THE 
patriarchs where we read it almost word for word. 
However, Abu al-Makarim's testimony is important, 
for it allows us here to correct the text of the Histo¬ 
ry of the Patriarchs, where Nafwah is written in 
place of Naqlzah. The author of this biography of 
the Patriarch Christodoulus, Mawhub ibn Mansur 
ibn Mufarrij, adds that during the patriarchate of 
Christodoulus the body of Saint Thecla was trans¬ 
ferred to Sinjar, seat of the patriarch. This informa¬ 
tion is also found in the notice of Saint Thecla in 
the synaxarion at 25 Abib, “at Sinjar, in the hermit¬ 

The geographical situation is explained by Mas- 
pero and Wiet (1919, pp. 212-13): Naqlzah is situat¬ 
ed on the peninsula of Burullus, which separates 
Lake Burullus from the Mediterranean. These au* 



tliors think that the Arabic Naqizah derives from 
the Coptic NikejOu. 


Am6lineau, E. La Geographic de l'Egyptc a Vepoque 
copte. Paris, 1893. 

Maspero, J., and C». Wiet. Materiaux pour servir d la 
geographic de I’Egypte. Cairo, 1919. 

Ren£-Georges Coquin 
Maurice Martin, S.J. 

NARTHEX. See Architectural Elements of 

NASH PAPYRUS, papyrus named after the buy¬ 
er, W. L. Nash, now in the Cambridge University 
Library (Or. 233; facsimile in Albright, p. 11). The 
papyrus contains the Decalogue (Ex. 20:2-17) and 
the Sh*ma (Dt. 6:1-5) in Hebrew. Its date is debat¬ 
ed. While Albright dates it in the second century U.C., 
most Old Testament scholars place it in the first 
century before or after Christ. It is to be interpreted 
not as a papyrus but as a phylactery. 


Albright, W. F. "On the Date of the Scrolls from 
'Ain Fcshkha and the Nash Papyrus." Bulletin o\ 
the American Schools of Oriental Research 115 
(1949): 10— 19. 

Dawson, W. R., and E. P. Uphill. Who Wo v Who in 
Egyptology, 2nd ed, p. 213. London, 1972. 

Martin Krause 


eighteenth-century deacon, archon, shavkh, and 
mu'a Him. He had some liturgical manuscripts cop¬ 
ied by the deacon ABIB IBN nasr in Coptic and in 
Arabic for the Church of the Mu'allaqah in Old 

The first of the two manuscripts is a led ionary in 
Coptic (Liturgy 317) for the second trimester of the 
Coptic year (Kiyahk, Tubah, and Amshir). of which, 
however, only the month of Amshir survives (fols. 
241-363). This manuscript was completed on 1 
Bashans a.m. 1472/7 May a.d. 1756, and given to the 
Church of the Mu'allaqah in Old Cairo. It is a large¬ 
sized manuscript (32 x 21 cm). 

The second manuscript is a lectionary in Arabic 
(Liturgy 320) for the weekdays of the first three 
months of the Coptic year, Tut, Babah, and Hatur 
(fols. 4-246). This manuscript was completed on 20 

Tubah A.M. 1474/26 January A.D. 1758, and also giv¬ 
en to the Church of the Mu'allaqah. It is a large¬ 
sized manuscript (29.5 x 21 cm). 


Graf, G. Catalogue des manuscripts arahes chrdtiens 
conserves au Cairc, pp. 254-55. Vatican City, 
1934. Samir, S.J. 

NASTARUH (Nastarawah), town in Egypt that 
seems to have been located in the northern Della 
along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea on Lake 
Bashmur (Maspero, 1919, p. 211). The fact that the 
repeated onslaughts of the Greeks against Dumyat 
in the middle of the ninth century prompted the 
citizens of Rashid, Alexandria, and Naslaruh to 
strengthen their walls is an indication of Nastaruh's 
proximity to the sea and consequent vulnerability 
to attack. Nastaruh's position in medieval Coptic- 
Arabic scales and lists of Egyptian bishoprics, as 
well as the evidence of medieval Muslim authors, 
points to Kom Mastaruh west of Nisf Gharb al- 
Burullus as the probable site of the old town. 

Naslaruh is attested in the sources as a bishopric 
since the tenth century. The HISTORY of THE patri¬ 
archs relates that around 960 the bishopric of Nas¬ 
laruh had to be combined with neighboring bishop¬ 
rics because starvation and poor harvests had 
severely diminished the population of the cities in 
the region. 


Amelineau, E. La Geographic de l 1 Egypte a Vepoque 
copte, pp. 275-76. Paris, 1893. 

Maspero, J., and G. Wiet. Materiaux pour servir d la 
geographic de VEgypte. Cairo, 1919. 

Timm, S. Das christlich-koptische Agypten in arabi- 
scher Zeit, pt. 4, pp. 1739-42. Wiesbaden, 1988. 

Randall Stewart 

NASTAS IBN JURAYJ, tenth-century Christian 
physician of Egypt. The Arabic sources do not make 
it clear whether he was a Copt or a Melchite. How¬ 
ever, Schacht and Meyerhof (1937. p. 137, 12) and 
M. Ullmann (1970, p. 138) state that he was a Copt. 
P. Sbath (1940) calls him a "Coptic monk," which 
is impossible unless he became a monk alter be¬ 
coming a widower, since he had a famous grand¬ 
son, Ishaq ibn Ibrahim ibn Nastas. 

Nastas lived at the time of al-Ikhshld Muhammad 
• • 



ibn Tughj (a h. 935-946), just before the arrival of 
the Fatimids. He was primarily famous for his 
knowledge of urology. He passed on the medical 
tradition to his family, and his grandson ishAq ibn 
IBRAHIM IBN N AST As became the personal doctor of 
al-HAKiM BI-AMR illAh (996-1021). 

Nast5s corresponded about medical matters with 
the famous Christian physician of Cordoba, Khalid 
ibn Yazld ibn Ruman al-Nasrani. Concerning this 
physician, see the history of physicians by Ibn Juljul 
(1955, p. 96), a work composed in 987. Nastas’s 
Risalah ft kayfiyyat al-islidlal hi-al-bawl *ala ah well 
al-shakhs wa-amr&dih (Epistle on How to Know the 
Situation and Sicknesses of a Person, on the Basis 
of his Urine) is preserved at Cairo in two manu¬ 
scripts (Bar al-Kutub, Taymur, Riyadivyat 139, sev¬ 
enteenth century, fols. 1 b—4a; and a manuscript be¬ 
longing to Dimitri Oandalaft, a Greek Orthodox 
shopkeeper, dated 1347, Sbath, 1940, p. 32, no. 

Nastas also composed a Collection of Drugs that 
is preserved in a manuscript dated 1347 belonging 
to Dimitri Oandalaft (Sbath, 1940, p. 31, no. 2694). 


Abu Dawud ibn Juljul al-AndalusI. l.e .s Generations 
dcs medecins et des sages, ed. lu’ad Sayyid. 
Cairo, 1955. 

Sbath, P. Al-Fihris (Catalogue de manuscrits arahes), 
Supplement. Cairo, 1940. 

Schacht, J., and M. Meyerhof. The Medico-Philo¬ 
sophical Controversy between Ibn Butlan of Bagh¬ 
dad and Ibn Ridwan o\ Cairo. Cairo, 1937. 
Sezgin, F., ed. Geschichte des arabischen Schrift- 
tunts, Vol. 3, p. 303. Leiden, 1970. 

Ullmann, M. Die Medizin im Islam. Leiden and Co¬ 
logne, 1970. 

Khalii. Samir. S.J. 

NATIONALIST PARTY. See Political Parlies. 

NANCE IN. The principal source for knowledge 
of the Coptic culture of the Middle Ages is the 
Arabic Christian manuscript tradition. It is, howev¬ 
er, very difficult to distinguish which of these manu¬ 
scripts originate from Coptic unless an examination 
is made on the basis of experience with Arabic 
paleography. In order to facilitate research work in 
this domain, this article contains a listing of Arabic 
manuscripts in the National Library, Paris, that 
were copied by Copts or diffused among them. 

Disregarding the content of the manuscript, cer¬ 
tain Coptic texts have been excluded because they 
were in circulation outside the Coptic world, for 
example, the History of al-Makin Jirjis ibn al-'Amid 
copied by the Tunisian Muslim Muhammad Mahdi 
ibn Amin al-TunisI (Arabe 295), or the Life of Saint 
Pachomius and His Disciple Theodoras, copied by a 
Melchite (Arabe 261). However, the History of the 
Melchite Sa’id ibn Batiiq copied by Copts (Arabe 
288, 289, and 290) and that of the West Syrian Ibn 
al-'Ibri (Arabe 296) qualify for inclusion. 

The manuscripts are in the National Library's Ar¬ 
abic series. In the following list, the date (A D.) or 
the presumed period appears in parentheses. For 
the collections, the dominant genre (hagiography, 
patristics, homiletics, etc.) is given. For further in¬ 
formation, reference should be made to the manu¬ 
script catalogs for this library. Arabic Muslim man¬ 
uscripts are excluded although these could be 
studied in order to discover which were copied by 
Copts. This task remains to be done. 

1 (1585): 

4 (thirteenth century): 

5 (fifteenth century): 

8 (sixteenth century): 


11 (1331): 

12 (1353): 

13 (fifteenth century): 

14 (fourteenth century): 

15 (fourteenth century): 

Bible: Old Testament 
Bible: Pentateuch 
Bible: Samaritan Pentateuch 
Bible: Samaritan Pentateuch 
Bible: Pentateuch 
Bible: Pentateuch 

Bible: Pentateuch with the Commentary of Mark ibn 

Bible: Pentateuch with the Commentary of Mark ibn 

Bible: Pentateuch 
Bible: Pentateuch 
Bible: Pentateuch 
Bible: Pentateuch 






































Bible: Pentateuch with the Commentary of Mark ibn 


(fourteenth century): 
(sixteenth century): 



(fourteenth century): 


(fifteenth century): 

Bible: Pentateuch with patristic commentary, 
plus Leviticus with the Commentary of Mark 
ibn Qanbar 

Bible: Genesis with the Commentary of Mark ibn Qanbar 
Bible: Genesis with the Commentary of Mark ibn Qanbar 
Bible: Genesis with the Commentary of Mark ibn Qanbar 
Bible: Genesis with the Commentary of Mark ibn Qanbar 
Bible: Historical books 
Bible: Chronicles 
Bible: The prophets 

Collection of the Psalms 
Collection of the Psalms 

(fifteenth century): Collection of the Psalms 

(1635): Bible: Psalms 

(seventeenth century): Psalms and Canticles (copied from a Coptic manuscript 

dated 1386) 

(fifteenth century): Wisdom collection 

(fifteenth century): Bible: Wisdom books 




(seventeenth century): 

(fifteenth century): 

(sixteenth century): 

(fifteenth century): 


(fifteenth century): 

Bible: Gospels 
Bible: Gospels 

Commentary on the Gospels by the fathers 
Bible: Gospels 
Bible: Gospels 

Commentary on the synoptic Gospels by the fathers 
Bible: Gospel of John 
Bible: Gospel of John 
Bible: Paul, Catholicon, and Acts 
Bible: Paul, Catholicon, and Acts 
Bible: Paul, Catholicon, and Acts 
Bible: Paul, Catholicon, and Acts 
Bible: Commentary on Revelation by Ibn Katib 



(fifteenth century): 
(fifteenth century): 
(fifteenth century): 


(fourteenth century): 
(sixteenth century): 
(fourteenth century): 
(thirteenth century): 


(fourteenth century): 



Hagiographical collection 
Homiletic collection 
Hagiographical collection 
Book of the Rolls of Pseudo-Clement of Rome 
Book of the Rolls of Pseudo-Clement of Rome 
Book of the Rolls of Pseudo-Clement of Rome 
Apocryphal texts on the apostles 
Theological apologetic collection 
Commentary' on the Gospels of Luke and John by 
'Abdallah ibn ai-Tayyib 

Commentary on the Gospels of Mark, Luke, and John 
by 'Abdallah ibn al-Tayyib 

Commentary on the Gospels for Sundays and feasts, 
according to the Coptic liturgy 



88 (fourteenth century): 

89 (1595); 

90 (fifteenth century): 

91 (fifteenth century): 

92 (fifteenth century): 

93 (fourteenth century): 


98 (fifteenth century): 
100 (fourteenth century): 
112 (sixteenth century): 


114 (fifteenth century): 
131 (1440): 


133 (fifteenth century): 

134 (fifteenth century): 

135 (thirteenth centuiy): 

136 (thirteenth century): 

137 (fourteenth centuiy): 

138 (fourteenth centuiy): 

139 (fourteenth century): 

141 (fifteenth centuiy): 
143 (fourteenth century): 

145 (1641): 

146 (sixteenth centuiy): 

147 (thirteenth centuiy): 

148 (1645): 

149 (thirteenth century): 

Commentary on the Gospels for Sundays and feasts, 
according to the Coptic liturgy 
Commentary on the Gospels and Epistles of Great 

Commentary on the Gospels and Epistles for the 
Sundays and feasts of the first six months, 
according to Coptic liturgy 
Commentary on the Gospels and Epistles for the 
Sundays and feasts of the last six months, 
according to the Coptic liturgy 
Commentary on Matthew (homilies 76-90) by 
John Chrysostom 

Commentary on John drawn from the fathers 
Homilies of John Chrysostom on the Epistles 
to the Corinthians and on Matthew 
Homilies of John Chrysostom on the Epistle to the 

Ritual of Gabriel V 
Collection on holy chrism 
Key to the pericopes for the offices of the Coptic 

Lectionary for Great Week 
Collection of prayers and theoiokia 
Predominantly hagiographical collection 

26 Homilies of Basil, including seventeen on the Psalms 
Homilies on the Hexaemeron by Basil and Gregoiy 
of Nyssa 

Collection of the 52 homilies of Ephrem 
Collection of the 52 homilies of Ephrem 
Collection of the 52 homilies of Ephrem 
Collection of the 52 homilies of Ephrem 
Collection of the 52 homilies of Ephrem 
Collection of the 52 homilies of Ephrem 
Marian homiletic collection 
Coptic and Melchite homilary 
Ascetic homilies and four Gospels 
Homiletic collection on the Annunciation and 
Saint Michael 

87 homilies of John Chrysostom for Sundays and 

Homiletic and hagiographical collection 
Ascetic works of Simon and Stylite and Issac of 

150 (1606): Patristic collection 

151 (fourteenth century): Patristic collection 

152 (sixteenth centuiy): Hagiographical collection 

153 (seventeenth centuiy): Hagiographical collection 

154 (1604): Coptic hagiographical collection 

155 (1486): Collection on the Virgin Mary 



157 (fourteenth century): 

158 (fourteenth century): 

160 (fifteenth century): 

161 (fourteenth century): 

166 (1222/3): 

167 (1227): 

168 (fourteenth century): 

170 (thirteenth century): 

171 (1618): 

172 (1291): 

173 (fourteenth century): 

174 (fourteenth century): 

175 (1299): 

176 (sixteenth century): 

177 (fourteenth century): 



183 (thirteenth century): 

185 (thirteenth century): 

191 (fourteenth century): 

192 (fourteenth century): 

193 (1584): 

197 (1278): 

198 (sixteenth century): 

199 (thirteenth century): 

200 (sixteenth century): 

201 (thirteenth century): 

Ascetical collection: Evagrius, John Climacus, John 
of Carpathus, Issac of Nineveh, John Sabas 
John Chrysostom: moral theology and Christ's divinity 
John Sabas 
John Sabas 
John Climacus 

Exegetical apologetical replies by Ibrahim ibn 'Awn 
Refutation of Muhammad ibn Harun al-Warraq by Yahya ibn 

Refutation of al-Warraq by Yahya ibn 'Adi 
Apologetical treatises of Yahya ibn 'Adi and Abu 
Ra’itah al-Takrlt! 

Kitab al ldah (twelve chapters) of Sevcrus of 

Two theological works of Severus of al-Ashmunayn 
Severus of al-Ashmunayn ( Book of the Councils) and 
Refutation of the Jews by Abu al*Fakhr 

Apologetical and spiritual collection 
Apologetical treatises of *fsa ibn Zur'ah 
The Par al-Hamm of Elias of Nisibis 
The DaC al-Hamm by Elias of Nisibis; and the Politics of 

Theological varia and apocrypha 

Al-Raslud Abu al-Khayr ibn al-Tayyib (Coptic Manuscript of 

Al-Rashid Abu al-Khayr ibn al-Tayyib 
Al-Raslud Abu al-Khayr ibn al-Tayyib 
The Confessio Patrum (dogmatic patristic anthology) 

The Kitab al-Ru'us (large work on spiritual direction 
and confession) 

Kitab al-Ruus 

Book of the Tower by Mari ibn Sulayman (Part I) 

Book of the Tower by Marl ibn Sulayman (Part II) 

Sim'an ibn Kalll ibn Maqara (large theological and 
spiritual work) 

Kitab al-Shifa ’ by Butrus ibn al-Rahib 

Controversy between Abu Qurrah and various Muslims 

Theological varia 

Summa Theologiae by Abu Ishaq ibn al-'Assal 
Sunt nut Theologiae by Abu Ishaq ibn al-'Assal (chap. 


202 (thirteenth- 

fourteenth century): Collection of four predominantly theological manuscripts 

203 (fourteenth century): Encyclopedia of Abu al-Barakdt ibn Kabar 
205 (fourteenth century): Varia 

207 (fourteenth century): Predominantly liturgical encyclopedia by Ibn Sabba' 

208 (fourteenth century): Encyclopedia by Ibn Sabba' 

209 (1552): Theological patristic anthology of Severus of 


210 (1634): Theological patristic anthology by Severus of al- 



212 (1601): 



215 (1590): 

225 (1671): 


227 (1671): 

238 (fourteenth century): 

239 (fifteenth century): 

240 (fourteenth century): 

241 (fourteenth century): 

243 (1641): 

244 (fourteenth century): 

245 (thirteenth century): 

246 (fouiteenth century): 

247 (fifteenth century): 

248 (fouiteenth century): 

249 (fifteenth century): 

251 (1352): 

252 (1663): 

253 (fourteenth century): 
256 (sixteenth century): 

263 (fifteenth century): 

264 (fifteenth century): 
267 (1344): 

271 (fourteenth century): 

272 (1643): 

273 (1752): 

274 (1778): 

275 (1685): 

277 (1524): 

278 (1294): 

279 (fouiteenth century): 

282 (1649): 

283 (thirteenth century): 

284 (1591): 

285 (1656): 

287 (thirteenth century): 

288 (fouiteenth century): 

289 (fourteenth century): 

290 (sixteenth century): 
294 (fourteenth century): 
296 (fourteenth century): 
299 (1693): 


Varia: canonical, theological, and spiritual 
Apologetical collection 
Apologetical collection 

Profession of faith by Patriarch Matthew IV (scroll) 

Profession of faith by Patriarch Matthew IV (scroll) 

concerning the Eucharist 

Profession of faith by Patriarch Matthew 

IV (scroll) concerning the Eucharist 

Coptic canonical collection 

Coptic canonical collection 

Coptic canonical collection 

Coptic canonical collection 

Coptic canonical collection 

Coptic canonical collection 

Nomocanon of al-Saft ibn al-'Assdl 

Nomocanon of al-Saft ibn al-‘Assdl 

Nomocanon of al-Saft ibn al-*Ass£l 

Nomocanon of al-Saft ibn al-'Ass&I 


Nomocanon of al-Saft ibn al-'Ass&I 
Nomocanon of Farajallah al-Akhmlml 
Canonical collection of Macarius 
Canonical collection of Macarius 
Apothegmata and ascetical collection 
Synaxarion for the whole year 
Hagiographical collection 
Hagiographical collection 
Hagiographical collection 
Story of Barlaam and Yuwasaf 
Story of Barlaam and Yuwasaf 
Story of Barlaam and Yuwasaf 
Story of Barlaam and Yuwasaf 

Collection of four martyrs 
Histories of monks 
Histories of monks 

Histories of monks and ascetical fragments 
Hagiographical collection (Barsum the Naked and 
Furayj Ruways) 

Abridged ascetical works by al-Safi ibn al-'Assal 
Life of Saint Takld Haymanut 
Epistle on chastity by Elias of Nisibis 

History of Sa'id ibn Batriq 
History of Sa'id ibn Batriq 
History of Sa'id ibn Batriq 
History of al-Makin Jiijis ibn al-'Amid 
History of Abu al-Faraj ibn al-'Ibri 
History of Abu al-Faraj ibn al-'Ibri 


300 (fourteenth century): 

301 (fifteenth century): 

302 (fifteenth century): 

303 (fourteenth century): 

307 (1338): 

309 (fifteenth century): 

310 (seventeenth century): 

311 (sixteenth century): 
314 (sixteenth century): 


317 (1550): 




321 (1702) 



4524 (1672) 

4525 (1358) 

4702 (1785): 

4711 (eighteenth century): 

4728 (1886): 

4729 (nineteenth century): 
4734 (eighteenth century): 

4755 (eighteenth c.entury): 

4756 (1866): 

4759 (seventeenth century) 

4760 (seventeenth century) 

4761 (seventeenth century) 

4762 (seventeenth century) 

4770 (nineteenth century): 

4771 (nineteenth century): 

4772 (nineteenth century): 

4773 (nineteenth century): 

4774 (nineteenth century): 

4775 (nineteenth century): 

4777 (nineteenth century): 

4780 (nineteenth century): 

Anonymous universal history 
History of the Patriarchs (biographies 1-20) by 
Severus of al-Ashmunayn 
History of the Patriarchs (biographies 21-27) by 
Severus of al-Ashmunayn 
History of the Patriarchs (biographies 18-25) by 
Severus of al-Ashmunayn 
History of the Patriarchs by Severus; lives of 

History of the churches and monasteries by Abu Salih 

Collection of philosophical sententiae; 
theological texts 

Collection of philosophical sententiae 
Collection of prayers 

Calculation of the Christian feasts by Khidr 

Ordination diploma of two deacons by Gabriel VII 
Diploma to the pastor of the church of Saint 
Mcrcurius in Cairo by Gabriel VII 
Diploma of Gabriel VII to three deacons 
Diploma to Sallb ibn Abl al-Faraj 
Diploma to Mina ibn Abl al-Faraj al-Birmawi 
Letter of the Emperor Adyam-Sagad to Clement XI 
Panegyrics of martyrs by John of Asyut 
Daf' al-Hamnt by Elias of Nisibis (and Pseudo-Plato) 
History of al-Makin Jirjis ibn al-'Amld 
History of al-Mufaddal ibn Abl al-Fada’il (autograph) 
History of Yuhanna ibn Hadhiq 
The 27 Maqalat of Yusab of Jirja and Akhmim 
Nomocanon by Michael of Damictta 
History of al-Makin Jirjis ibn al-'Amld 
Muzil al-Khataya wa-al-'ukus (anonymous) 
Lectionaries of the New Testament pericopes for 
certain feasts 

Lectionary of the New Testament from Lent to 

Bible: fragments of the Old Testament 

30 homilies by James of Saruj 

Sermons of Shcnoudah for the 7 Sundays of Lent 


Collection of apocrypha on the apostles 
Hagiographical collection 

History of the Patriarchs by Severus of al-Ashmunayn 
History of the Patriarchs by Severus of al-Ashmunayn 
History of monks and hagiographical accounts 
Hagiographical collection 
Hagiographical collection 
Hagiographical collection 
Synaxarion for the first six months 
Synaxarion for the last six months 



4781 (nineteenth century): Hagiographical collection 

4782 (nineteenth century): Hagiographical collection (on Saints Mercurius and 


4783 (1886): Life of Saint Pachomius (638 pages) 

4784 (1839): Life of Saint Pachomius and the 20 letters of Anthony 

4785 (nineteenth century): Homiletic, hagiographical, and apocalyptic collection 

4786 (nineteenth century): Theological collection 

4787 (nineteenth century): Hagiographical collection (Shenoudah, etc.) 

4788 (nineteenth century): Hagiographical collection 

4789 (nineteenth century): Histories of monks 

4790 (nineteenth century): Hagiographical collection 

4791 (nineteenth century): Hagiographical collection 

4792 (nineteenth century): History of Barlaam and Yuwasal 

4793 (seventeenth century): Hagiographical collection 

4794 (1784): Homiletic collection 

4795 (1885): Muzil al-KhatfiyH wa-al-'ukus (anonymous) 

4796 (nineteenth century): The 26 homilies ol Shenoudah; hagiographical 


4811 (1724): 

4869 (seventeenth century): 

4870 (eighteenth 

4871 (eighteenth 

4872 (eighteenth 

4873 (nineteenth 

4874 (nineteenth 

4875 (nineteenth 

4876 (nineteenth 

4877 (nineteenth 

4878 (nineteenth 

4879 (nineteenth 

4880 (nineteenth 

4881 (nineteenth 

4882 (nineteenth 

4883 (eighteenth 

4884 (nineteenth 

4885 (nineteenth 

















4886 (1885): 

4887 (nineteenth century): 

4888 (1885): 

4889 (seventeenth century): 

4890 (nineteenth century): 

Collection of philosophical sententiae 
Synaxarion of the first six months (Sahidic 

Synaxarion of the last six months 
Homiletic and hagiographical collection 
Hagiographical collection 
History of monks 

Apocalypse of Paul; Martyrdom of Pilate 
Apocalypse of Paul 
Cycle of Saint George 

Panegyric of Saint Victor by Demetrius of Antioch 
Hagiographical collection 
Hagiographical collection 
Cycle of Saint Mercurius 
Hagiographical collection 

Life and miracles of Saint Andrew; homily on fasting 
Life and miracles of Saint Anthony 
Life and miracles of Saint Anthony 
Hagiography: Macarius the Egyptian; Maximus and 
Dometius; Barsum the Naked 
Life of Pachomius 
Hagiographical collection 

Hagiographical collection (especially Shenoudah) 
Panegyric oj Saint Michael by Theophilus of 
Monastic collection 

4891 (1864): Story of Barlaam and Yuwasaf 

4892 (nineteenth century): Life of Saint Takla Haymanut 

4893 (nineteenth century): Hagiographical collection 

4894 (seventeenth century): Hexameron of Pseudo-Epiphanius of Cyprus; Combat of 

Adam and Eve 



4895 (fifteenth to 

sixteenth cenlury): Varia (three distinct manuscripts) 

4896 (sixteenth century): Homiletic collection 

4897 (eighteenth century): 30 homilies of James of Saruj 

4898 (eighteenth century): Collection of wisdom and moral theology 

4899 (nineteenth century): 19 miracles of Saint Simon the Mad 

4900 (fourteenth century): Bible: Gospel of Luke (1:68-4:14) 

4902 (nineteenth century): Collection of magic prayer’s 

5015 (fifteenth century): Book of the Rolls of Pseudo-Clement of Rome 

5253 (sixteenth century): Fragments of liturgical pericopes with commentaries 
5969 (sixteenth century): Liturgy of Saint Gregory; ritual of the anointing of 

the sick 

6125 (eighteenth century): The way of the cross 
6147 (1832): Varia (especially Revelation) 

6280 (eighteenth century): Gospels 

6502 (eighteenth century): Nomocanon of al-Safi ibn al-'Assal 

6855 (1816): Letter of the Grand Master of the Confraternity of 

the Knights of Mercy 

6932 (1784): 16 homilies of James of Saruj 

6933 (seventeenth century): Theological collection 


Blochet, E. Catalogue des tnanuscrits arahes des 
nouvelles acquisitions (1884-1924). Paris. 1925. 

Slane, Baron [McGuckin] de. Catalogue des manu • 
scrits arahes de la Bibliothkque nationale. Paris, 

Troupcau, G. Catalogue des tnanuscrits arabes chre- 
tiens, 2 vols. Paris, 1972, 1974. Samir. SJ. 

rus Collections. 

NATION'S PARTY. See Political Parties. 

NATIVITY. See Christian Subjects in Copiic Art. 



Meurthe-et-Moselle. lie studied at the Seminary of 
Saint Sulpice, was ordained in 1887, and received 
his doctorate in 1897. He was professor of mathe¬ 
matics at the Institut catholiquc of Paris from 1890 
to 1931, becoming dean of the School of Sciences 
in 1928. Curious to understand Oriental literatures, 
he studied Syriac. He wrote his thesis, Book of the 
Ascension and Spirit of Barhebraeus, at the Ecole 
des Hautes Etudes. He cofounded the Patrologia 
Orientalis series with R. Graffin; in it he published 
twelve fascicles, numbers 11, 19, 36, 45, 46, 47, 51, 
63. and 113 (1905-1931). He was secretary (1905- 
1911) and then director of the Revue de I'Orient 
chretien (1911-1919), for which he wrote more 
than a hundred articles (1896-1931). Among his 
books, the following are to be noted: Histoire et 
Sagessc d'Altiqar VAssyrien (1909), Lc Livre d'Herac • 
lide de Damas, about Nestorius (1910), and La Di- 
dascalie des apotres. The catalog of his works com¬ 
prises some 248 titles, without counting articles for 
the Dictionnaire de la Bible, Dictionnaire de thiol- 
ogie catholique, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de geog¬ 
raphic eccUsiastique, Journal asiatique, and other- 
such works. 

Francois Graffin, S.J. 

NAU, FRAN£OIS-NICOLAS (1864-1931), NAUCRATIS, city in Egypt located in the western 
French priest and Orientalist. He was born at Thil, Delta. As a major center of Greek trade, Naucratis 



experienced its high point in the seventh to fourth 
centuries B.c. In Coptic-Arabic literature, the city is 
first mentioned as one of the stopping places of Apa 
Epimachus (Rossi, 1887, pp. 41-42. 68-69). This 
account, however, makes no mention of Christians 
in Naucratis. Our earliest record of a bishop in the 
city is of Isaias, who held office in the middle of the 
fifth century (Municr, 1943, p. 23). 

There are no definite attestations of Christianity 
in Naucratis in the Arabic period. 

In 1884, Sir Flinders Petrie began excavation of 
the ruins of Naucratis, which are located in the 
province of Beheira north of Ityay al-Barud in the 
modern village of al-Niqrash. 


Amelineau, E. La Geographic de PEgypt e a Vcpoque 
copte, pp. 271-72. Paris, 1893. 

Klees, H. "Naukratis." In Real-encyclopiidie der 
classischen Alter! urn s vv isse use haft, Vol. 16, cols. 
1954-66. Stuttgart, 1935. 

Municr, II. Receuil dcs listen episcopates de Veglise 
copte. Cairo, 1943. 

Rossi, F. / Martirii de Gioore, Heraei, Epimaco e 
Ptolemeo. Turin, 1887. 

Timm, S. Das christlich-koptischc Agvpten in arahi - 
scher Zeit, pt. 4, pp. 1749-51. Wiesbaden, 1988. 

Randall Stewart 

NAVE. See Architectural Elements of Churches. 

NAWAHA. See Monasteries of the Province of Da- 

NAWAY. See Monasteries of the Middle Sa'id. 

NAWRUZ, thought to be of Persian origin on the 
assumption of its traditional use in Iran, word origi¬ 
nally derived from an ancient Egyptian equivalent 
adopted by the Persians during their occupation of 
Egypt. It denotes Coptic New Year’s Day, commem¬ 
orated in the Coptic church liturgy but also cele¬ 
brated as one of the great popular feasts by the 
whole Egyptian nation. It falls on 1 Tut (11 Septem¬ 
ber), which is the first month of the Coptic year and 
takes its name from the Egyptian god Thoth. In 
ancient Egypt, it was a day of celebiation, ceremo¬ 
nies, and processions in which the golden statuette 
of Hathor, the goddess of plenty, was taken out of 

its temple at Dandarah at the break of dawn amid 
music and chanting to inaugurate the New Year. 
This same day is still a day of tremendous celebra¬ 
tions among all the people of Egypt. The four¬ 
teenth-century Arab historian al-MAORl/.I devoted 
space in his work to a description of the popular 
festivities associated with that day in medieval 
times. Dressed in their best attire, people ex¬ 
changed visits and fruits of the season, notably 
dates. The festivities continued throughout the 
night, and the populace took to drinking and de¬ 
bauchery until the Mamluk state decided to sup¬ 
press Nawruz as an approved public holiday in the 
year 1378-1379. In the church, however, its cele¬ 
bration continued. The Coptic New Year still fig¬ 
ures in the Synaxarion as a day of healing by water. 


Daumas, F. La Civilisation de I'Egypte pharaonique. 
Paris, 1965. 

Lane, E. W. Manners and Customs of the Modern 
Egyptians, 2 vols. London, 1842. 

Wassef, C. Wissa. Pratiques rituelles et alimentaires 
des coptes. Cairo, 1971. 

Archbishop Basiuos 

NEALE, JOHN MASON (1818-1866), British 
historian. He received his higher education at Trini¬ 
ty College, Cambridge. He spent most of his years 
divided between England and the island of Madeira, 
where he wrote prodigiously. The Dictionary of Na¬ 
tional Biography lists his works in four categories. 
Among the twenty items listed under the first cate¬ 
gory, Theological and Ecclesiastical, is his History 
of the Holy Eastern Church (5 vols., London, 1847- 
1873), including a volume on the patriarchate of 
Alexandria. Other writings arc Selections Prom the 
Writings of John Mason Neale (London, 1884); John 
Mason Neale's Letters (London, 1910); and Collected 
Hymns, Sequences and Carols (ed. Mary S. Lawson; 
London, 1914). 

Aziz vS. Atiya 

HELM (1789-1850), German church historian. 
Jewish by birth, his original name was David Men¬ 
del. He was baptized as a Protestant in 1806 and 
changed his name to Neander. He taught ecclesias¬ 
tical history at Berlin from 1813 until he died. 
Apart from his famous General History of the Chris - 



tian Church (6 vols., 1826-1852), he wrote a num¬ 
ber of monographs, including one on the subject of 
Gnosticism (1818). As a confirmed Protestant, he 
held to primitive Christian simplicity. His oeuvre 
appeared posthumously as Collected Works (14 
vols., Gotha, 1862-1867). 


Kammcrer, W., comp. A Coptic Bibliography. Ann 
Arbor, Mich., 1950; repr. New York, 1969. 

Aziz S. Atiya 

NEHEMIAH. See Old Testament, Arabic Versions 
of the. 

during the period of toleration for the Christians 
(313-c. 321) in the reign of Licinius. The council's 
canons deal mainly with moral questions and indi¬ 
cate the ecclesiastical concern with sexual issues at 
this time. Other canons deal with the catechumen- 
ate, with the age for ordination to the priesthood 
(not below thirty), and with the status of the chor • 
episcopi (country bishops). Though none of the can¬ 
ons refers specifically to Egypt, their prescriptions 
passed into the general canon law of the East, and 
demonstrate the underlying ascetic temper of the 
church in the East at the time the monastic move¬ 
ment emerged in Egypt. 

W. H. C. Frend 

NEREIDS. See Mythological Subjects in Coptic 

NERO, TITUS CLAUDIUS, Roman emperor 
from 54 to 68. From the point of view' of the history 
of Christianity, Nero is important for the ferocious 
persecution that he unleashed in the late summer 
of a.d. 64 against the Christians in Rome. The ac¬ 
count given by Tacitus (The Annals 15.44), writing 
some fifty years after the event but recalling vivid 
memories of the time, indicates that Nero, finding 
himself suspected of causing the destructive fire 
that on 19 July 64 destroyed two entire quarters of 
the city of Rome, fixed on the Christians as wel¬ 
come scapegoats. Large numbers of suspected 
Christians were rounded up. Those who confessed 
to being Christians were cruelly done to death "in 

the Circus of Gaius and Nero on the Vatican" (Pliny 
the Elder's location; Naturalis historia 36.74). 
Church tradition includes Peter and Paul among 
the victims. 

Nero committed suicide in June 68, and the per¬ 
secution did not spread outside Rome. However, 
the horrific nature of the deed imprinted itself on 
Christian tradition. Nero became associated with 
Antichrist. A legend also grew' up among the popu¬ 
lace as a whole that he would return with armies 
from Parthia to regain the empire. Among Chris¬ 
tians in the third and later centuries, the two ideas 
were combined. In the savage persecution under 
valerian, that emperor may have become identified 
with Nero in the mind of Dionysius of Alexandria 
and Egyptian Christians. The "seventh year of Va¬ 
lerian" (A.D. 259), bringing persecution to its cli¬ 
max, paralleled the then proverbial "seventh year 
of the divine Nero" (a.d. 60), which presaged the 
onset of the Neronian years of tyranny. The associa¬ 
tion Nero-Antichrist did not die out with the end of 
the persecution, but for a long time continued to 
find its place in Coptic mythology. 


Beaujeu, J. "L’lncendie de Rome en 64 el les chra¬ 
tions." Latomus 19 (1960):47ff. 

Sordi, M. II cristianesinw e Roma, pp. 79-94, 291- 
95. Bologna. 1965. 

-"Dionisio di Alessandria e le vicende della 

persecuzione di Valeriano in Egitto." Paradoxes 
politeia. Studi patristici in onore di Giuseppe 
Lazzati, pp. 288-95. Milan, 1979. 

W. H. C. Frend 

NESTORIANS AND COPTS. The first theo- 

logical-Chrislological clash between the Nestorian 
doctrines and Alexandrian orthodoxy took place at 
the Council of ephesus (431). cyril i (412-444) 
faced a new phase in Christology as preached by 
the scholar NESTORIUS, patriarch of Constantinople. 
The Alexandrian theologians, led by Saint Cyril, 
taught that Jesus Christ was the Eternal Logos un¬ 
der the condition of humanity. All the actions pred¬ 
icated to Jesus as a man were predicated to the 
Divine Logos as well; His mother, therefore, is the 
theotokos. mother of God. According to Nestorius, 
Mary was only the mother of the man. This led to 
the doctrine of the dual nature of Jesus. Saint Cyril 
addressed himself to the pope of Rome, Celestine, 
in order to attract Roman attention to the irregular¬ 
ity of Nestorian doctrine. Saint Cyril hurled twelve 


anathemas against Ncstorius from Alexandria, the 
center of the orthodox Christian world. This preem¬ 
inent position and the Nestorian struggle led to the 
division of the church after the Council of Chalce- 
don (451). 

dioscorus i (444-458) recognized nothing hut the 
Cyrillian formula for Christology. Politics under the 
cover of religion did the rest. Thus the Alexandrian 
orthodoxy was (because of dishonesty or ignorance) 
labeled as Eutychianism (see EUTYCIIES). The Copts 
energetically protested against the basic elements 
of Eutychianism, as they refused the doctrines of 
Nestorianism. Their traditional hostility to Nestori- 
anism and Nestorians, even from 616 to 642, when 
the Copts lived under Persian domination, as well 
as their unwillingness to discard their ecclesiastical 
and national independence, were deciding factors 
in favor of the establishment of a “Coptic church." 
The strict resistance to Nestorianism and Euty¬ 
chianism has preserved the doctrinal orthodoxy of 
the Coptic church until today. This is illustrated by 
the statement on Christology drawn up by the Ro¬ 
man Catholic church and the Coptic church which 
was signed at the Anba Bishoi Monastery near Cairo 
on 12 February 1988, “We believe that our Lord, 
God and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, 
is perfect in His divinity and perfect in His humani¬ 
ty, that His humanity is One with His divinity, with¬ 
out mixture or confusion, unchanging and unal¬ 
tered, and that His divinity at no lime was separate 
from His humanity. At the same time we anathe- 
mize simultaneously the doctrines of Nestorius, and 
of Eutyches" (John Paul II and Shenouda III). 


Atiya, A. S. A History of Eastern Christianity. Lon¬ 
don, 1968. 

Heiler, F. Die Ostkirchen. Basel. 1971. 

Spuler, B. “Die nestorianische Kirche.” Handhuch 
der Orlentalistik, ser. 1, 8 (1961): 120-67. 
Tisserant, E. “L'Eglise nestorienne." In Dictionnaire 
de Theologie Catholique, Vol. II, cols. 157-323. 
Paris, 1931. 

Maktiniano P. 

NESTORIUS. Nestorius was born at Germanicia 
in Syria Euphratensis sometime before 381, and be¬ 
came patriarch of Constantinople in 428. After his 
condemnation for heresy and deposition by the 
First Council of ephesus in 431, he was allowed by 
Emperor Theodosius II to retire to his former mon¬ 

astery a short distance from the gates of Antioch. 
Because Nestorius continued to agitate on behalf of 
his condemned teachings, Archbishop JOHN OF ANTI¬ 
OCH complained to Theodosius, who ordered the 
final banishment of Ncstorius to the Great Oasis 
(Khargah) in Egypt on 3 August 435. Nestorius re¬ 
mained in Egypt until his death (sometime after 

The most reliable, and the only detailed, source 
for Nestorius' exile in Egypt is found in Book I, 
chapter 7, of the Ecclesiastical History of Evagrius 
Scholaslicus (c. 536-600). Evagrius claims that 
he was able to consult Nestorius’ own writings, 
and quotes from the Tragoedia and the Bazaar of 
Heracleides, works written by Ncstorius to defend 
his position, and a letter addressed to the governor 
of the Thebaid. Sometime after Nestorius arrived at 
the Great Oasis, it was overrun by a Nubian tribe. 
Evagrius calls them Blemmyes, while Nestorius is 
quoted as calling them Noubades. Both names, as 
used by these writers, are probably generic words 
used to refer to the inhabitants of Lower Nubia, 
who made frequent incursions into Egypt in the 
fifth century (see BEJA TRIBES). The tribes plundered 
the Great Oasis and left it in ruins. They then freed 
Nestorius and an unspecified number of other peo¬ 
ple with the warning that they should flee because 
the Mazices, a Libyan tribe, were on the way to 
attack the oasis. The refugees had to make their 
way across the desert to the Thebaid as best they 
could. The date of this invasion is unknown. 
Nestorius was still at the oasis when Socrates 
Scholasticus wrote his Ecclesiastical History in 439. 

Perhaps the invasion of the Mazices coincided 
with their devastation of the monasteries of Scetis 
in 444. Upon his arrival at Panopolis (Akhmfm), 
Nestorius made himself conspicuous in order to 
avoid being branded a fugitive. He appealed to the 
governor of the Thebaid for clemency, but was in¬ 
stead transported under military escort to Elephan¬ 
tine Island, on the southern border of Egypt. No 
sooner had he arrived than he was recalled to 
Panopolis. Nestorius complained about having to 
make the trip, saying that he was aged (he must 
have been over sixty by this time) and ill, suffered 
from the hazards of travel, and that his hand and 
side had been mangled. The latter affliction may 
have been the result of the fall to which Evagrius 
attributes his eventual death. 

After returning to Panopolis, Nestorius was sent 
to a place near it, probably the fortress of Psinblje 
(Shard Heap) mentioned in the Coptic sources. 
While he was there, another order for deportation 



to an unspecified place was issued, bul whether 
Nestorius was moved again is not known. The exact 
date of his death is unknown. In the Bazaar of 
Heracleides he shows a knowledge of dioscorus 1 
deposition and exile by the Council of CHALCEDON, 
which would place his death sometime after 451. 

The Coptic tradition concerning Nestorius pre¬ 
serves stories about his exile most of which arc not 
found elsewhere. According to the history or the 
patriarchs, Nestorius was being escorted to the 
Great Oasis when his guard learned that the 
Mazices had sacked it, and so he was taken immedi¬ 
ately to Panopolis and incarcerated at Psinblje. This 
contradicts Evagrius' evidence and probably repre¬ 
sents a badly informed summary of events. The His¬ 
tory of the Church in Twelve Books tells of a con¬ 
frontation between Nestorius and SHENUTE of 
Atrlbe. Nestorius asks Shenute to distribute his 
goods to the poor, and Shenute demands that he 
acknowledge that Mary is the Mother of God. When 
Nestorius refuses, Shenute declines to distribute his 
goods. The same story appears in other works (e.g., 
the Arabic Life of Shenute) where Shenute calls 
down an angel who beats Nestorius to death. Some 
scholars have seen this episode as a possible indica¬ 
tion that Shenute had a hand in Nestorius’ murder. 
But Nestorius’ death as a result of a fall, as related 
by Evagrius, is the more plausible explanation. 

Coptic sources also relate an earlier confronta¬ 
tion between Nestorius and Shenute at the Council 
of Ephesus (431), when Nestorius allegedly threw 
the Gospel book from its throne and seated himself 
in its place. Shenute in turn unseated Nestorius and 
restored the Gospel. The Coptic History of the 
Church mentions a petition sent by Nestorius to 
Caesarius at Antinoopolis, because CaesarJus was a 
friend of Shenute who might be able to persuade 
the latter not to harass Nestorius. Caesarius is well 
known from Shenute’s own letters and from an 
inscription found at the White Monastery (dayr anbA 
SHINOdah). Such a petition would fit the picture of 
Nestorius as portrayed by Evagrius. 

The confrontation between Nestorius and She¬ 
nute was certainly possible, but it is not corroborat¬ 
ed by any account outside the Coptic tradition. 
While the details of Nestorius' exile in Egypt are 
sketchy in the Coptic accounts, and probably not 
reliable for the most part, the impact of Nestorius 
as a symbol of everything that Egyptian orthodoxy 
opposed after the Council of Chalcedon was pro¬ 
found. The adjective "Nestorian” was used indis¬ 
criminately in Egypt to describe all forms of the 
two-nature Christology. 


Johnson, D. W. "Further Fragments of a Coptic 
History of the Church: Cambridge Or. 1699R." 
Enchoria 6 (1976):7-17. 

David W. Johnson 

NEWARK MUSEUM. See Museums, Coptic Col¬ 
lections in. 

NEWLANDSMITH, E. See Music, Coptic: Musi¬ 


Press, Coptic. 

OF THE. Topographical conditions along the 
Nile were such as to foster the growth and differen¬ 
tiation of similar but distinct dialects of the com¬ 
mon parent language. During the early Christian 
period the old Egyptian language had assumed half 
a dozen dialectal forms, differing from one another 
chiefly in phonetics, but also to some extent in 
vocabulary and syntax. 

The earliest Christians in Egypt used Greek, but 
soon the new faith found adherents outside the Hel- 
lenized portion of the population. Exactly when 
translations of the scriptures were first made into 
one or another of the several Coptic dialects is not 
known, but the earliest version must precede about 
A.D. 270, the date at which Saint ANTONY was con¬ 
vened after hearing Matthew 19:16ff. read in Coptic 
in a village church in southern Egypt. The earliest 
extant biblical manuscripts date from the end of the 
third or beginning of the fourth century. 

Sahidic Version 

Of the surviving Coptic documents from the fifth 
century or earlier, those in Sahidic are more than 
twice as numerous as those in all the other dialects. 
The manuscripts attest to more than one Sahidic 
translation of certain biblical books. These were 
conflated in subsequent transmission, as well as re¬ 
vised against the Greek. The edition of the New 
Testament in Sahidic, prepared by George W. Hor¬ 
ner (7 vols., 1911-1924; reprinted 1969), lacks ho¬ 
mogeneity, having been edited of necessity from 
diverse texts with quite disparate dates and prove- 



nance. The textual affinities of the Sahidic version 
are mixed. Alexandrian readings predominate, but 
there is also a strong "Western" element. 

Bohalrlc Version 

About the eleventh century, Bohairic replaced Sa¬ 
hidic as the liturgical language ol the church. Al¬ 
though a lew early manuscripts in Bohairic have 
survived, the majority are late. The standard edition 
is that of George W. Horner (4 vols., 1898-1905; 
reprinted 1969), who made use of forty-six manu¬ 
scripts for the Gospels, twenty-four for the Epistles 
and the Acts (the latter regularly follows the Epis¬ 
tles), and eleven for Revelation. The textual affini¬ 
ties of the Bohairic version are chiefly with the 
Alexandrian type of text, with some revision toward 
the Byzantine text. 

Other Versions 

Besides the Sahidic and the Bohairic, versions 
were made also in several other dialects used at 
different localities stretching from north to south 
along the Nile River. Except for Fayyumic, these 
dialects died out as literary languages by about the 
seventh century. 

Fayyumic is well preserved in fragmentary manu¬ 
scripts dating from the fourth to the eleventh cen¬ 
turies, a few of which have been edited (c.g.. Hus- 
selman, 1962). 

Akhmimic texts of the scriptures are quite frag¬ 
mentary and few in number; perhaps only several 
biblical books were translated into this dialect. 

Sub-Akhmimic, which stands between the Akh¬ 
mimic and Middle Egyptian (Oxyrhvnchitc) dialects, 
flourished in the fourth and fifth centuries. An im¬ 
portant manuscript is a fourth-century copy of the 
Gospel according to John (edited by Sir Herbert 
Thompson, 1924). Most of the other extant litera¬ 
ture in this dialect is Manichaean and/or Gnostic 
(including several Nag Hammadi treatises). 

Middle Egyptian (Oxyrhynchite) is represented by 
several important manuscripts dating from about 
the fifth century; one parchment manuscript con¬ 
tains the complete text of the Gospel of Matthew 
(edited by H. M. Schenke. Berlin, 1981). another 
(on parchment leaves of exactly the same dimen¬ 
sion as those of the Matthew codex) contains the 
text of Acts 1:1-15:3 in a form that presents many 
so-called Western readings. A fifth-century papyrus 
codex containing portions of ten epistles of Paul in 
the Middle Egyptian dialect has been edited by Tito 
Orlandi (Milan, 1974). 

Problems Concerning Coptic Versions 

The study of the textual affinities of the several 
Coptic versions is still far from being complete and 
many problems remain to be solved. Particularly 
perplexing arc questions concerning the nature and 
degree of the interrelationship of the several trans¬ 
lations, as well as the possibility of stages of revi¬ 
sion within a given version. 

The limitations of Coptic in representing Greek 
arise in part from its being a language of strict 
word order. Coptic does not possess any grammati¬ 
cal construction comparable with oratio obliqua; 
consequently, recourse is made to direct speech. 
Nor can Coptic truly represent the Greek passive 
voice, since it possesses only the active voice. 
Nevertheless, despite these and other limitations, 
the textual critic is grateful for the evidence from 
the Coptic versions in investigating the history of 
the transmission of the New Testament text in 
Egypt. Among noteworthy variant readings in 
Sahidic is the name "Nineve" given to the rich man 
who refused to help Lazarus (Lk. 16:19). The doxol- 
ogy at the close of the Matthean form of the Lord's 
Prayer (Ml. 6:13) is binary, "For thine is the power 
and the glory forever." 


Aland, K. “The Coptic New Testament," In A Trib¬ 
ute to Arthur Voobus, Studies in Early Christian 
Literature, ed. R. H. Fischer. Chicago, 1977. 

Horner, G. W. The Coptic Version of the New 'Testa¬ 
ment in the Northern Dialed, 4 vols. London, 

- The Coptic Version ol the New Testament in 

the Southern Dialect, 7 vols. Oxford, 1911-1924. 

Husselman, E. M., ed. The Gospel of John in Fayyu¬ 
mic Coptic. Ann Arbor, Mich., 1962. 

Kasser, R. "Petites rectifications a propos de This- 
toire des versions copies de la Bible.” Biblica 61 

Metzger, B. M. The Early Versions of the New Testa¬ 
ment, Their Origin, Transmission, and Limitations. 
Oxford, 1977. Has comprehensive bibliography. 

Orlandi, T., ed. Let/ere di san Paolo in Copto- 
ossirinchita. Papiri della University degli studi di 
Milano 5. Milan. 1974. 

_"The Future of Studies in Coptic Biblical 

and Ecclesiastical Literature.” In The Future of 
Coptic Studies, ed. R. McL. Wilson. Leiden, 1978. 

Ouecke, H. Das Lukasevangelium sahidisch, Text 
der Handschri/t P Palau Rib. /nv.-Nr. I SI mil den 
Varianten der Handschrift M 569. Barcelona, 



Schenke, H.-M., cd. Das Matth'dus-Evangeliwn im 
mitteldgyptischen Dialckt des Koptischen. Codex 
Scheide. Berlin, 1981. 

Thompson, H. The Gospel of John According to the 
Earliest Coptic Manuscript. British School of Ar¬ 
cheology in Egypt 36. London, 1924. 

Bruce M. Metzger 

plied to several scries of canons that are missing in 
the Greek or Latin canonical collections. They ap¬ 
pear to have been reworked from the Syriac, at 
least in part. In the latter language the texts attrib¬ 
uted to the Council of nicaea in 325 are said to 
have come from the pen of the bishop Maruta of 
Maipherkat (in Arabic Mayyafaraqln, today a town 
in Turkey). At all events, who the translator, or 
rather the adapter, was is not known, nor at what 
date the canons were adopted by the Copts. It will 
be noted—this is not a proof that they wore previ¬ 
ously unknown—that in his Nomocanon the 
twelfth-century patriarch GARKIF.I. it ibn iukayk 
knew only the twenty canons counted in the Greek 
collections, while mIkhATl, bishop of Damietta, cit¬ 
ed two series of canons of Nicaea, one of twenty 
canons and one of eighty-four. Given that the 
grouping of these texts diverges greatly in the man¬ 
uscripts, it has seemed better to follow the exposi¬ 
tion given by Abu al-Barakat ibn kabar in his reli¬ 
gious encyclopedia Misbdh al-Znbnah. This passage 
was translated into French in .1. M. Vansleb's //is- 
toire de I'eglise d'Alexandrie (1677, pp. 265IT.). 

Ibn Kabar divides the documents attributed to 
the Council of Nicaea into three books. In the first 
book (according to him, it is the second in the 
Greek collections) he groups a history ol Constan¬ 
tine l and his mother, Helena, as well as a presenta¬ 
tion of his incentives for the convocation of the 
council, which forms a kind of introduction. The 
collection of Macarius, a monk of Dayr Abu Maqar 
in the fourteenth century, adds at this point a list of 
heresies and sects and a list of the 318 bishops who 
participated. Then comes the series of twenty au¬ 
thentic canons, according to the Melchite recen¬ 
sion, followed by the Coptic series of thirty (some¬ 
times thirty-three) canons concerning anchorites, 
monks, and the clergy. W. Riedel (1968, pp. 38. 
1791) asked if this was not a reworking of the Syn¬ 
tagma ad monachos attributed to Saint Athanasius. 

As to the second book, Ibn Kabar tells us, “The 
Melchitcs and the Nestorians have translated [the 
second book] and the Jacobites have adopted it.” It 

is a series of eighty-four (sometimes eighty) canons. 
This division would perhaps indicate that the origi¬ 
nal text was continuous. 

The third book contains the “Books of the 
Kings," which are themselves divided into four 
books and also exist independently. This is a collec¬ 
tion of the legislation enacted by the Byzantine em¬ 
perors Constantine, Theodosius, and Leo. I lere 
these canons are attributed to the Council of Ni¬ 
caea. It appears that the Christians of the Orient 
adopted these texts in defiance of the Muslims, who 
referred to the Shariah, or Muslim sacred law, for 
guidance in purely civil matters such as marriages, 
inheritances, and the like. 

These texts provide numerous translations. The 
first book gives a history of the emperor Constan¬ 
tine and his mother and relates the story of the 
council, as well as the reasons for the convocation 
of the bishops. It includes the twenty authentic can¬ 
ons followed by the thirty eanons called Arabic and 
gives the history, or prehistory, of the Council of 
Nicaea in a rather free Latin translation by Abra¬ 
ham Ecchellensis (Ibrahim al-H&qilanf), a celebrat¬ 
ed Maronite deacon. The “Thirty Canons Relative 
to the Monks and Clergy" are given in Latin by the 
same author in a paraphrase rather than a true 
translation. The list of heresies is given in German 
translation by A. Harnack (1899, pp. 14-71). The 
list of the bishops according to the Coptic texts is 
examined by, among others, F. Haase (1920, pp. 
81-92). As for the eighty-lour canons, they will be 
found in a paraphrase by Abraham Ecchellensis in 
J. D. Mansi (cols. 1029-1049). 

The enormous mass of the documents relating, 
rightly or wrongly, to the first council, which 
played a considerable role in the East more than 
anywhere else, is organized in the collection of 
Macarius into four books. The difference between 
his division and that of Ibn Kabar is that Macarius’ 
second book comprises not all the eighty-four can¬ 
ons but only the first thirty-two. Canons forty-eight 
to seventy-three, combined with the thirty concern¬ 
ing anchorites, monks, and clergy, form the third 
book, the fourth containing only the Coptic recen¬ 
sion of the twenty official canons. The “Four Books 
of the Kings” have with him a place apart. 

The Arabic Canons of Nicaea are, in the strict 
sense, the eighty-four canons adapted from the Syri¬ 
ac by the Melchites and borrowed by the Copts. In 
addition to this series of eighty-four eanons in Ara¬ 
bic literature, the literature in the Coptic language 
contains a series that has not survived in Arabic 
translation, called Gnomes. It is credited to the 


Council of Nicaea and gives moral exhortations, 
which probably reflect the discipline in force in the 
fourth century in the church of Alexandria. It was 
published and translated into French by E. Revill- 
out (1873, pp. 210-88; and 1875, pp. 5-77, 209- 


Haase, F. Die koptischen Quellen zunt Konzil von 
Nicda. Studien zur Geschichte und Kultur des Alt- 
ertums 10. Paderborn, 1920; repr. New York and 
London, 1967. 

Harnack, A. Der Kelzer-katalog des Bischofs Maruta 
von Maipherkat. Texte und Untcrsuchungen n.s. 
4. Leipzig, 1899. 

Rcvillout, E. "Lc Concile de Nic6e d'apres les docu¬ 
ments coptes: Premiere serie de documents.’’ 
Journal asiatique, ser. 7, 1 (1873):210-88. 

_”Le concile de Nicee d’apres les textes 

coptes. Nouvelle sdrie de documents, le manu- 
scrit Borgia.” Journal Asiatiquc, ser. 7, 5 (1875): 
5-77 and 209-266. 

Riedel, W. Die Kirchenrechtsqucllen des Patri¬ 
archal* Alexandrien. Leipzig, 1900; repr. Aalen, 

Vansleb, J. M. Histoire de Veglise d'Alexandrie. Par¬ 
is, 1677. 

Rhn1- Coquin 

NICAEA, COUNCIL OF (325). During the third 
century, the Christian churches had evolved organi¬ 
zational structures parallel in many respects to 
those of the Roman empire. Episcopal authority 
over congregations paralleled in some ways imperi¬ 
al authority; episcopal courts adjudicated for Chris¬ 
tians the same matters as civil courts did; city coun¬ 
cils and provincial governments provided models 
for ecclesiastical organization. The synod represent¬ 
ed a familiar political process for resolving disputes 
on matters of doctrine and church order with its 
prototype in the Roman senate and city councils of 
the empire. The fact that the church had evolved an 
ecclesiastical organization that b<mowed heavily 
from Roman political organization prepared the 
way for an effective integration of church and em¬ 
pire, of which the Council of Nicaea is the first and 
most sterling example. On the other hand, the effec¬ 
tive ecclesiastical organization of the churches 
made the bishops potentially powerful figures in 
imperial politics, which the failure of the Council of 
Nicaea in the succeeding decades demonstrates. 

The controversy that led to the convening ol the 
Council of Nicaea began in Egypt in 318. In its 
early stages it was a contest between episcopal au¬ 

thority and the authority of the intellectuals, that is, 
the authority of the theological schools, arius 
preached in his congregation at Baucalis a theologi¬ 
cal understanding of the relationship between the 
Logos and the Father that he shared with others 
trained under LUCIAN or ANTIOCH at the school in 
Antioch. A number of the Egyptian clergy, conse¬ 
crated virgins, and the laity espoused Arius’ views. 
Patriarch ALEXANDER I of Alexandria (312-326), 
whose episcopal jurisdiction extended throughout 
the entire province of Egypt, called for a theologi¬ 
cal discussion between Arius and those who op¬ 
posed him and eventually ordered Arius not to ex¬ 
pound his views. When Arius refused to comply, 
Alexander excommunicated him and his supporter's. 

It was Arius who carried the controversy beyond 
the boundaries of Egypt. Refusing the theological 
authority of Alexander of Alexandria, he wrote to 
and gained the support of Eusebius of Nicomedia, a 
fellow student of Lucian of Antioch. In response 
Alexander buttressed his authority by convening a 
synod of Egyptian bishops in 319 who collectively 
excommunicated Arius and his companions. Alex¬ 
ander then communicated the deliberations and ac¬ 
tions of this synod to all bishops in the form of an 
encyclical. In support of Arius a Bithynian synod 
was convened in 320, which issued an encyclical 
calling for Alexander to restore the excommunicat¬ 
ed Arians. 

Alexander extended the controversy yet further 
by writing over seventy letters in which he solicited 
and gained the support of bishops in Thessalonica, 
Asia Minor, Greece, the Balkan peninsula, and 
Rome. By 324, most of Christendom had been 
drawn into the controversy, which was debated 
among the theologians and clergy by letter and 
treatise, and among the laity by song and verse. The 
inner Christian conflict had become so widespread 
that it was parodied in the pagan theater. 

The theological point at issue was both subtle and 
abstract. It had to do with a critique of Alexandrian 
theology. ORir.EN, the most influential of the Alexan¬ 
drian theologians, conceived of the Logos of God- 
God’s mind or reason—as a distinct hypostasis (es¬ 
sence). In Arius’ view this led to the equivalent of 
two first principles. Arius, following the Antiochene 
school, rejected this view as positing two Gods and 
therefore tending toward pagan polytheism. God 
alone can be ungenerated ( ageneios ) and without 
beginning ( anarchos ), eternal and unchanging. The 
divine substance of the hypostasis of the Father is 
utterly simple and cannot be divided and thereby 
changed, so the Son cannot be the same substance 
as the Father. To affirm that the Son is of the same 



substance as the Father would imply that God was 

According to Arius, the Son belonged to the 
realm of the created because the Son had a begin¬ 
ning and was generated through an act of the Fa¬ 
ther's will, out of nothing. Arius did, however, grant 
the pre-existence of the Son before the creation of 
the world; in this sense the priority of the Father 
over the Son was really a logical rather than a 
temporal priority. The Son was called Logos in a 
derivative sense because in Arius' understanding 
God's Logos or mind remains immanent with Him 
and is not a separate hypostasis. 

The involvement of the emperor CONSTANTINE l in 
this controversy derived from the Roman tradition 
that the emperor is punt if ex tnaxitnus (chief priest), 
responsible for the religious activities of the state, 
which secured the benevolence of the gods and 
thus the welfare of the empire. As emperor of the 
Western empire Constantine had already convened 
two councils in an attempt to resolve the Donatist 
controversy. He had also experimented with perse¬ 
cution and confiscation in an attempt to impose 
unity. During this period Constantine had selected 
Ossius of Cordova as his adviser in religious affairs. 

Constantine's first attempt to resolve the contro¬ 
versy involved sending Ossius to Alexandria to meet 
with the two parties that had precipitated the con¬ 
flict. This effort failed since the controversy had 
long since left the confines of northern Egypt. In 
325, in connection with the planned lavish celebra¬ 
tion of the twentieth year of his reign, Constantine 
convened a council of bishops. 

The site of the ecumenical council, originally 
planned for Ancyra, was changed to Nicaea in or¬ 
der to allow the emperor, whose residence was in 
nearby Nicomedia, to participate in the sessions. 
Constantine's political objective was a religious uni¬ 
ty that would ensure the prosperity of the state. His 
concept of how that religious unity should be ob¬ 
tained was the creation of a compromise document 
that would be signed by all the bishops. His objec¬ 
tive was not the resolution of theological problems 
but the reconciliation of opposing parties. 

The emperor opened the council with a solemn 
speech and a symbolic act. He delivered in Latin, 
the language of imperial affairs, a passionate exhor¬ 
tation to unity. By burning in a brazier the petitions 
of the bishops accusing one another of personal 
scandal and political disloyalty, he demonstrated 
his commitment to nonpartisanship. 

In the absence of acts of the council we are 
dependent on historians of the next generation for 
the highlights of the proceedings. The Arian party 

seized the initiative by presenting a creed that artic¬ 
ulated their understanding. The Arian creed was 
signed by some eighteen bishops. At the same time 
the assembly was introduced to the catchy tunes of 
Arius' Thaleia. An uproar ensued and anti-Arian 
bishops expressed their disapproval by tearing up 
the document, eusebius of Caesarea, an Arian mod¬ 
erate and court chaplain, a favorite of the emperor, 
presented as a compromise creed the baptismal 
creed of Caesarea. 

In the ensuing debate it became clear that the 
anti-Arian party felt that existing baptismal creeds 
were not formulated sharply enough to exclude Ari¬ 
an Christology. “Begotten not made" was added to 
the baptismal formula, "Begotten of the father." 
"Only begotten from the Father" was sharpened 
with the phrase "that is, from the substance of the 
Father," which included the term homoousion. 

The anti-Arian party pressed for the acceptance of 
the term hotnoousios to describe the relationship of 
the Father and the Son. It was a term without a 
clear history of meaning and made several parties 
uneasy. The Arian objection to the term was that it 
was unscriptural and materialistic (as if Father and 
Son were of the same substance or material). To 
Others, to say that the Son was hotnoousios with the 
Father seemed to deny the Son's separate existence. 
In its brief theological history, the term had not 
acquired a stable set of meanings. The political 
spectrum ranged from the extreme Arianism of the 
Bithynian bishops, Eusebius of Nicomedia and 
Thcognis of Meris, to the extreme anti-Arian posi¬ 
tion of Alexander of Alexandria, Eustathius of Syria, 
marcellus of Ancyra, and Macarius of Jerusalem. 
The moderate Arians were represented by Eusebius 
of Caesarea and Paulinus of Tyre. The moderate 
anti-Arian party was represented by the Westerners 
under Ossius of Cordova. 

When the creed, after much debate, received its 
final formulation, Constantine pressed all the bish¬ 
ops to sign it. Anti-Arian anathemas were appended 
to the end of the creed. The appendix read, "Who¬ 
ever says 'there was a lime when he was not,' 'he 
was created out of nothing,' 'the Son of God is 
another substance or another being,”' were anathe¬ 
matized. Only three of the Arian party refused to 
sign under penalty of exile: Arius, Secundus, and 
Theonas. (Constantine himself provided an inter¬ 
pretation of homoousion that was intended to ease 
the Arians’ conscience, that hotnoousios did not 
mean the same substance in a material sense.) 

Constantine's concern for Christian unity includ¬ 
ed not only doctrine but also ritual. By the time of 
the Nicene council, the Ouartodeciman controversy 


was over a century old. The Eastern churches cele¬ 
brated the Christian Passover (Easter) on the same 
day as the Jewish Passover. The churches of the 
West, Egypt, Greece, Palestine, and Pontus, cele¬ 
brated the Christian Passover on the Sunday follow¬ 
ing the Jewish Passover. The council ratified the 
practice that was dominant in the West and im¬ 
posed this uniformity. About twenty years after the 
council, the Sunday observance of the Christian 
Passover was nearly universal. The council assigned 
the astronomical and mathematical task of deter¬ 
mining the date of the Christian Passover for each 
year to the Alexandrian bishop in recognition of 
Alexandria's prominence as an intellectual center. 

Another Egyptian controversy was settled by the 
council, that of the MEI.ITIAN SCHISM. MH.I.ITIUS. bish¬ 
op of Lycopolis, broke with Peter, bishop of Alexan¬ 
dria, over the treatment of the lapsed, Melitius tak¬ 
ing the stricter view. The outcome was that Melitius 
set up his own church and succession of bishops. 
The council allowed Melitius to retain his see and 
required that all bishops and clergy ordained by 
him be restored to the church through the imposi¬ 
tion of hands. The bishop of Alexandria was given 
right of consent for all appointments to Egyptian 

The council also passed twenty canons on mat¬ 
ters of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Canon 18 pre¬ 
serves episcopal power against the encroachment 
of deacons; canons 4 and 6 establish the rights of 
the metropolitans to approve the appointment of 
bishops in their provinces. The right of jurisdiction 
of Alexandria is mentioned in this canon. Canons 1, 
2, 3, and 17 regulate the morality of the clergy; 
canons I, 2, and 3 are concerned specifically with 
sexual morality. 

In the decade that followed the Council of Ni- 
caea, the exiled bishops, Eusebius and Thcogonis, 
were returned and Eusebius of Nicomedia supplant¬ 
ed Ossius as adviser on religious policy. The anti- 
Arian bishops, Eustathius and Athanasius, were de¬ 
posed. In 334, the Synod of Jerusalem reinstated 
Arius. When Constantine’s sons succeeded him, im¬ 
perial policy changed once again. Under Constans, 
the anti-Arian Athanasius (bishop of Alexandria, 326- 
373) was returned from exile and reinstated. But 
Constantius, the Eastern emperor, supported the 
Arian bishops. The political power and diplomatic 
skills of the Arian bishops succeeded in persuading 
Constantius to allow the exiled bishops to return. 
The relative fortunes of both the Arian and the 
anti-Arian parties waxed and waned with imperial 
politics, depending on whether or not imperial poli¬ 
tics and episcopal politics converged. 


Barnard, L. "Church-State Relations a.d. 373-337." 
Journal of Church and Slate 24 (1982):337—56. 

Barnes, T. D. Constantine and Eusebius. Cambridge, 
Mass., 1981. 

Boularand, E. L'Hcresie d 1 Arius et la “lot" de Nicea. 
Paris. 1972. 

Chadwick, H. "Faith and Order at the Council of 
Nicea." H award Theological Review 53 

(1960): 171-96. 

Gregg, R. C., ed. Arian ism , Historical and Theologi¬ 
cal Reassessments. Philadelphia, 1985. 

Ilaase, F. Die koptischen Qucllen zum Konzil uin 
Niciia . Paderborn, 1920. 

Hefele, C. J. A History of the Christian Councils, 
Vol. 1. Edinburgh, 1871. 

Holland, D. L. "Die Synode von Antiochien (324/ 
25) und ihre Bedeutung fur Eusebius von Caesa¬ 
rea und das Konzil von Nizaa.” Zeitschri/t /hr 
Kirchengeschichtc 81 (1970): 163-81. 

Lippold, A. "Bischol Ossius von Cordova und Kon¬ 
stantin der Grosse." Zeitschri/t fur Kirchenge- 
schichte 92 (1981): 1-15. 

Lorenz, R. "Das Problem der Nachsynode von Ni- 
cSa 327.” Zcitschrift fur Kirchengeschichtc 90 

I.uibheid, C. The Council of Nicea. Galway, Ireland, 

_"The Alleged Second Session of the Council 

of Nicaea." Journal of Theological Studies 34 
(198.3): 165-74. 

Opitz, II. G. Vrkunden zur Ceschichtc des aria- 
nischen Streites: 318-328. Berlin, 1934. 

Stead, C. G. "Eusebius and the Council of Nicaea." 
Journal of Theological Studies , n.s. 24 (1974):85- 
100 . 


NICENE CREED, creed formulated and defined 
at the Council of NICAEA in 325, representing the 
faith of the church as understood by the 300 or so 
bishops who, on the summons of the Emperor Con¬ 
stantine I. deliberated the orthodoxy of the Arian 
interpretation of Christology. The predecessors of 
the Nicene Creed were local baptismal creeds that 
also served as the basis for catechetical instruction. 
These baptismal creeds expressed in summary form 
the faith of the congregation. The Nicene Creed not 
only epitomized the faith of the bishops present, it 
also functioned as a test of orthodoxy for bishops. It 
therefore represented the basis for a new kind of 
unity of the church, one that rested on imperial 
sanctions; the three bishops who refused to sign 
were exiled. 



Several baptismal creeds have been proposed as 
the prototype for the Nicene Creed. Those formulas 
of the Nicene Creed not found in the earlier creeds 
reveal a strong anti-Arian revision of the baptismal 
creed. The "Only Begotten from the Father" of the 
baptismal creeds was clarified with the phrase "that 
is, from the substance [ousta] of the Father." To the 
baptismal formula "begotten of the Father," the Ni¬ 
cene Creed adds "begotten not made." The inser¬ 
tion of the term HOMOOUSION (same substance) into 
the Nicene Creed introduced into the confession of 
faith a philosophical term with a very limited histo¬ 
ry in theological discussions, one that was intended 
by the emperor to be a formula for concord. The 
anathemas appended to the Nicene Creed condemn 
the Arian views that the Son was a different hypos¬ 
tasis (essence) from the Father, or a diflerent ousia 
(being) from the Father, or that the Son was made 
or changeable. 

The Nicene Creed did not immediately supplant 
the local baptismal creeds and become the univer¬ 
sal confession of the church. According to tradition 
the Nicene Creed was expanded at the First Council 
of CONSTANTINOPLE in 381; it was modified again and 
adopted at the Council of chalcedon in 451, in 
which form it became a confession of faith that 
could be called ecumenical. 


Boularand, E. L'Ueresie d'Arius cl la foi de Nicee. 
Paris, 1972. 

Burns, A. E. Introduction to the Creeds. London, 

Dossetti, G. L. II simholo di Nicea e di Constantin - 
upli. Rome, 1967. 

Harnack, A. "Apostolisches Symbolum." In Realen- 
cyklopedie fiir protestantische Thcologie und 
Kirche, Vol. 11, pp. I5f. Leipzig, 1902. 

Hort, F. J. A. Two Dissertations. Cambridge, 1876. 
Kelly, J. N. D. Early Christian Creeds. London, 

Lools, F., ed. Das Nicanicn. Tubingen, 1922. 
Luibheid, C. "Eusebius and the Nicene Creed." Irish 
Theological Quarterly 39 (1972):299-304. 
Rietzmann, H. "Symbolstudien." Zeitschrift fiir die 
neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 24 (1925): 196ff. 
Schwartz, E. "Das Nicacnum und das Constantino- 
politanum aul der Synode von Chalkedon." Zeil - 
sc hr ift fiir die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 25 

Karen Torjesen 

NICHE. See Architectural Elements of Churches. 

NIKIOU, Greek name of a city in the Egyptian 
Delta in the area of Minuf. Traditionally, the city 
was named after the governor who founded it. Ni- 
kiou was known in Coptic as tttpxTi (Pshati) and in 
Arabic literature it was called Niqyus or Ibshadl. 

The location of Nikiou is a matter of some de¬ 
bate. There is today a town called Ibshadl in the 
province of Miniifiyyah, located about 5 miles (8 
km) northwest of Sirsina and about 12.5 miles (20 
km) northwest of Minuf. E. Amelineau considered 
this town to be Nikiou (1893, p. 283), but the ruins 
of Zawyat Razln, situated about 5.5 miles (9 km) 
southwest of Minuf, match the ancient testimony 
about the city much more closely (Butcher, 1897, 
Vol. 1, p. 390, n. 1). Thus it appears that Nikiou was 
situated on the east side of the Nile arm opposite 

The history of Christianity in Nikiou is very old. 
Tradition holds that the family of Jesus Stayed in 
the city for seven days during its flight into Egypt. 
While there Jesus healed a man who was possessed 
(Mingana, 1929, pp. 405, 444). According to some 
accounts, the parents of Menas the miracle maker 
were from Nikiou, and the city was said to have had 
a church in their day. 

Nikiou is mentioned often in Coptic martyrologi- 
cal literature. Among the city's martyrs were sever¬ 
al bishops, including Macrobius and Sarapamon, 
who died during the persecutions of Diocletian. 
The synaxarion records that Sarapamon, who had 
been ordained bishop of Nikiou by the patriarch 
PETER l (300-311), was interred in a church in the 
city after his death and that Macrobius, a contem¬ 
porary of Julius of Aqfahs (see MARTYRS, COPTIC) 
whom he healed of an illness, served as bishop for 
thirty-nine years. 

Our knowledge of other bishops of Nikiou comes 
piecemeal from a number of various sources, atiia- 
nasius I reported that in 325 a Melitian bishop 
named lleracleides was in residence in Nikiou {Ap¬ 
ologia Secunda 71.16). In a letter of Athanasius we 
read that Triadelphus succeeded Sarapamon as 
bishop of Prosopites, the district of which Nikiou 
was the chief city. That this Triadelphus was a 
staunch supporter of orthodoxy is evidenced by the 
fact that he was a member of the delegation led by 
Bishop srrapion of tmuis that went to Constantino¬ 
ple in support of Athanasius (Munier, 1943, p. 7). 
Patriarch tiieophilus (385-412) announced in his 
paschal letter of 404 that he had ordained Theo- 
pemptus as the successor of Theodosius in the bish¬ 
opric of Nikiou (cited in Munier, 1943, p. 12). In 
454, Bishop Piusammon of Nikiou appealed to Pope 
Leo in Rome concerning his removal from office by 


Patriarch dioscorus i and in 459 this Plusammon 
joined in the condemnation of Eutychcs (Municr, 
1943, pp. 22-23). The name of Bishop Macarius of 
Nikiou comes up in the account of Saint Theopista. 
Macarius had blessed Theopista and introduced her 
into monasticism, but after she had spent a year 
alone in a room, he forgot about her. Then after 
seeing Theopista in a vision, he went to her room 
and found her dead. The historian JOHN OF NIKIOU 
mentions a man named John as bishop of the city 
at the beginning of the seventh century. In 645 or 
646, not long after the ARAB CONOUEST of EGYPT, 
Bishop Basil of Nikiou, a man described as great 
and learned, was present at the dedication of a 
memorial in the Monastery of Macarius (Coquin, 
1975. pp. 128-29). The successor of Basil appears 
to have been the chronicler John of Nikiou. The HIS¬ 
TORY of THE PATRIARCHS reports that John was pres¬ 
ent at the death of Patriarch joiin hi in 686. Patri¬ 
arch SIMON I (689-701) made John supervisor of 
monasteries and then when John punished an er¬ 
rant monk so severely that he died ten days later, 
Simon removed John from office and ordained 
Menas as bishop of Nikiou. The history of Nikiou’s 
bishops ends sometime around 960 when the popu¬ 
lation of the city had decreased to the point that 
Nikiou had to be joined with surrounding towns 
and villages to form a single bishopric. 


Amelineau, E. La Geographic de VEgypt* d Vepoque 
coptc, pp. 277-83. Paris, 1893. 

Butcher, E. L. The Story of the Church of Egypt, 2 
vols. London, 1897. 

Coquin, R. G. Livre de la consecration du sanctu- 
aire de Benjamin. Bibliothfcque d'ettides coptes 
13. Cairo. 1975. 

Drescher, J. Apa Mena: A Selection of Coptic Texts 
Relating to St. Menas. Cairo, 1946. 

Hyvernat, H. Les Actes des martyrs de I'Egypte. Par¬ 
is, 1886-1887. 

Mingana, A. "Woodbrooke Studies 5." Journal of 
the John Rylands Library 13 (1929):383-474. 
Municr, H. Recueil des lisies episcopates de Teglise 
coptc. Cairo, 1943. 

Timm, S. Das christlich-koptische Agypten in ara- 
bischer Zeit, pt. 3, pp. 1132-40. Wiesbaden, 1985. 

Randall Stewart 

NILE DEITY. See Mythological Subjects in Cop¬ 
tic Art. 

NILOMETER, a number gauge for measuring the 
rise in the waters of the Nile at iLs annual Hood. In 
Coptic times it had the shape of a graduated col¬ 
umn divided into cubits. It is built of stone in the 
middle of a well alongside the river. On Coptic 
textiles the Nilometer is represented surmounted by 
a cone with a child, symbol of the cubit in Greco- 
Roman and Coptic statuary, standing near the col¬ 
umn. On Alexandrian coins the child pointed out 
the favorable number of cubits. In Coptic art his 
gesture is amplified. Holding a chisel in his left 
hand and a mallet in his right, he carves the proper 
number of cubits for the place where the Nilometer 
is located. A good example is a medallion in the 
Louvre (fifth-sixth century), worked in two colors, 
with a blue-green staircase and a red column. The 
blue-green color recalls the green waters of the 
initial rise (June), and red the Hood itself (July— 
September). The two Greek and Coptic figures indi¬ 
cate the best flood level at Hermopolis. 

In visual form, this conjunction of symbolism and 
realism presents the pharaonic significance of the 
Nilometer as an instrument of economic foresight 
and a witness to divine benevolence toward Egypt. 
Greek papyri of the Coptic period (sixth century) 
tell us that the Nile flood rises by the power of 
Christ, and that the Nilometer depends on the 
church. The Nilometer is pail of the Egyptian land¬ 
scape, like the lotus and the thickets of water 


Bonncau, D. "Lc Nilom&tre: aspect architectural." 

Archeologia (Warsaw) 27 (1976):!-11. 

Bourguet, P. du. Catalogue des etoffes copies, Vol. 
1, no. D36. Musec National du Louvre. Paris, 

Danielle Bonneau 

NILOTIC SCENES. See Mythological Subjects 
in Coptic Art. 

NIMBUS. See Symbols in Coptic Art. 

NITRIA, with SCETIS and the KELLIA, one of the 
principal monastic habitations, founded about 325- 
330 by amun. The site, long confused with the pres¬ 
ent Wadi al-Natrun, was finally identified by H. G. 



Nile deity, Euthenia and the Nilomcter in an orbicitluni. Tapestry. Seventh century. 
Diameter: 13 cm. Courtesy Louvre Museum. Paris. 


Evelyn-White. It is located in the western part of 
the Delta, about 10 miles (15 km) south ol Daman- 
hflr, where the village of al-Barnuji stands today. 
The name of this village is none other than the 
name of Pcrnouj that the Coptic documents give to 
the site called by Greek and Latin authors Nilria or 
"the mountain of Nilria," because ol the presence 
in this region ol lakes from which natron was ex¬ 
tracted (as in the Wadi al-Na|run). Monastic tradi 
lion interpreted this name in symbolic fashion: it 
denotes the place where the sins of men were 
washed, like soiled garments. In fact natron served, 
among other uses, for the washing of linen (cf. 
terpretation in Saint Jerome Letter 22). The Coptic 
documents also employ the expression "the moun¬ 

tain of the natron" (hgtoov MiiicOCM, petoou 
mpihosm); in this expression as in the preceding 
one, the word "mountain" is explained either by 
some slight elevation of the terrain at this spot, or 
more probably by the use, frequent in monastiac 
times, of this word to designate the site in which 
the monks lived. 

Among the earliest disciples ol Annin who lived 
at Nitria in the fourth century, we know especially 
Theodorus, Or, Pior, and above all PAMBO, the most 
celebrated of the monks of this desert. After the 
foundation of the Kellia, numerous monks from 
Nitria went to establish themselves in this new site, 
where they enjoyed a greater solitude than at Nitria. 
Thereafter the custom became established, fairly 
generally as it seems, for those who aspired to the 

1796 NOB. APA 

monastic life to make first a more or less lengthy 
stay at Nitria, and then to go and live in greater 
solitude at the Kcllia. Thus Evagrius, coming from 
Palestine, first spent two years at Nitria before go¬ 
ing to settle finally at the Kcllia. 

The monks of Nitria in fact quickly became very 
numerous, and it was their large numbers that 
brought about the foundation of the Kcllia, only a 
dozen years after Amun’s arrival at Nilria. Accord¬ 
ing to Saint Jerome, who stopped there about .386 
on his way to Palestine with Paula, there were 
then 5,000 monks in this desert ( Letter 22, to 
Eustochium). This very high figure is also the one- 
given twice by palladius ( Historia lausiaca 7 and 
13), who lived there for a year in 390 before reach¬ 
ing the Kcllia; but it is difficult to reconcile with 
what RUFINUS says in his adaptation of the historia 
MONACHORUM IN aegypto (21). He too had gone to 
Nitria, about 374, at the time when the monks of 
this desert were undergoing the Arian persecution. 
He says, in fact, that the monks of Nitria lived in 
some fifty houses ("tabernacula"). His testimony 
and that of Palladius agree that some ol these hous¬ 
es were occupied by a single monk, others by two 
or more monks. 

The most complete description of Nitria at the 
end of the fourth century is given by Palladius. 
There were then among the monks of this desert 
eight priests, one of whom had preeminence over 
the others during his life. He it was who on Satur¬ 
days and Sundays celebrated the liturgy in the 
church. Adjoining the church there was a hostelry 
where passing guests were lodged. There were vari¬ 
ous shops, among them seven bakeries that sup¬ 
plied the bread not only for the monks of Nitria but 
also for those of the Kcllia. The monks spent the 
week alone in their cells, working mainly on 
the weaving of linen, and assembled solely for 
the weekly liturgy. 

The "mountain of Nitria" seems to have known 
its greatest prosperity at the end of the fourth cen¬ 
tury. The number of monks there diminished rather 
quickly, probably because it was more and more 
difficult to lead a solitary life in a region too close 
to the inhabited and cultivated lands. In 645 or 646 
when the Patriarch BENJAMIN went fiom Alexandria 
to the Wadi al-Natrun to consecrate the new church 


of the DAYR ANUA MAQAr, he was accompanied by the 
priest Agatho, who has left a detailed account of the 
journey. Benjamin went directly to al-Muna, that is, 
the Kellia, "near the mountain of Pernouj," without 
stopping at "the mountain of Pernouj" itself, Nitria, 

a probable indication that the site was no longer 
then inhabited by monks (cf. R.-G. Coquin, 1975, 
pp. 98-99). 


Bernard, A. l.e Delta igyptien d’aprhs des lextes 
grecs, vol. 1. confins libyqucs, vol. 3, Cairo, 

Coquin, R.-G. Livre de la consecration du sanctuaire 
de Benjamin. Cairo, 1975. 

Evelyn-White, H. G. The Monasteries of the Wadi'n 
Natrun, pt. 2. The History of the Monasteries of 
Nitria and Seeds. New York, 1932. 

Antoine Guillaumont 

NOB, APA, third-century saint mentioned in the 
synaxarion of the Copts at 23 Ba'unah. A more 
complete Life is given by several Arabic manu¬ 
scripts (Coptic Museum, Cairo, History 469, fols. 
348r, 353r; National Library, Paris, Arabe 154, fols. 
53r-64r; Arabe 263, fols. 128r-38r; Leipzig Univer¬ 
sity, Orientale 1067, fols. 202r-4v). 

Nob was a native of a village called al-Bilad (Bil- 
Rnfis according to Forget's edition of the Synaxar¬ 
ion). He lived in a monastery in Upper Egypt in the 
time of Diocletian (284-305). He was brought be¬ 
fore Arianus, prefect of the Thcbaid, and called 
upon to offer incense to Apollo. On his refusal he 
was subjected to torture and exiled to Pentapolis, 
where he was left in a pit for seven years, until the 
death of Diocletian (313). 

The Synaxarion reports the following legend. 
When Constantine had liberated the confessors, he 
wished to see seventy-two of them and receive their 
blessing. Among the four most illustrious, the Syn¬ 
axarion names Zachariah, a native of Almas, Max- 
imian of the Fayyum, Agabi of Dalma, and Apa Nob 
of the town of Bilad. Apa Nob, however, on his 
return from Pentapolis had withdrawn to the moun¬ 
tain of Bishla (markaz or district of Mit Ghamr). He 
was ordained priest against his wishes. He went 
with the seventy-two before Emperor Constantine 
and accepted as presents only some vases and vest¬ 
ments for the church. Then he returned to his mon¬ 
astery, where he died. 


Graf, G. Catalogue de manuscrits arabes chretiens 
conserves an Caire. Studi e Testi 63. Vatican City, 



Troupeau, G. Catalogue de manuscrits arahes, Vol. 
1. Paris, 1972. 

RenE-Geokgis Coouin 

NOBA. In medieval Arabic lexis ihe name Nubah 
usually designates all of the Nubian-speaking inhab¬ 
itants of the Nile Valley (see NUBIANS). In classical 
texts, where the name appears as Noba or Nubae, it 
refers more specifically to a Nubian-speaking tribe 
or tribes who occupied the area west of the Nile in 
the general vicinity of the city of Meroe (sec KUSH). 
By the fourth century these people had moved east¬ 
ward across the river and had occupied much of 
the territory of Kush, possibly including Meroii it¬ 
self. They established a kingdom of their own, 'AL- 
WA, with its capital at SOUA. near the site of modern 
Khartoum. 'Aiwa was convened to Christianity in 
the sixth century (see NUBIA. EVANGELIZATION OF), 
and thereafter remained in the Christian fold for 
almost a thousand years. In the Middle Ages the 
people of 'AlwS (Greek and Coptic, Alodia) were 
referred to as Alodaei, and the name Noba ceased 
to refer specifically to this Nubian-speaking tribe. 


Adams, W. Y. Nubia, Corridor to Africa, pp. 424-28. 
Princeton, N.J., 1977. 

Arkell, A. J. A History of the Sudan, from the Earliest 
Times to 1821, pp. 174-85. London, 1955. 

Hintze, F. "Meroe und die Noba." Zeitschrift fiir 
Agyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde 94 

Kirwan, L. P. "Tanqasi and the Noba." Kush 5 

MacMichael, H. A. A History of the Arabs in the 
Sudan, Vol. 1, pp. 35-52. London, 1922. 

William Y. Adams 

NOBATIA, the name given in medieval times to 
the most northerly part of Nubia, immediately 
south of Egypt. Its territory is believed to have ex¬ 
tended from about the First to the Third Cataract of 
the Nile, though there is some doubt about the 
location of the southern frontier. The region took 
its name fiom the Nubian-speaking Nobatae (Noba- 
dae, Noubade) tribe. According to Procopius, they 
were formerly dwellers in the oases but were invit¬ 
ed by Diocletian to settle in Lower Nubia when he 
withdrew the Roman legions, near the end of the 

third century. However, some scholars believe that 
the Nobatae settlement began at a considerably ear¬ 
lier dale. 

It is assumed that the Nobatae were originally 
subject to the empire of KUSH (Meroe). After the 
collapse of Kushite power in the fourth century, 
they became politically independent and were ruled 
by their own king. One of the early Nobatae kings, 
Silko, left an inscription in Greek in the temple of 
Kalabsha. Another, Aburnai, is mentioned in a let¬ 
ter found at QASR IBRIM. Most scholars believe that 
the royal tombs at ballana and Qustul, excavated in 
the 1930s, are those of the Nobatae kings, although 
there is no textual evidence to provide a certain 
identification. In pagan times the capital or princi¬ 
pal royal residence was apparently at Qasr Ibrlm. 
Later, with the coming of Christianity, it may have 
shifted to faras. 

The conversion of Nobatia to Christianity in the 
sixth century is recorded by John of Ephesus. Ac¬ 
cording to him, the work of evangelization was be¬ 
gun by a Monophysite priest named jijlian in 543 
and was completed by longinus. also a Monophy¬ 
site, in 569-575. Ecclesiastical historians suggest 
that there was rival missionary activity in NUBIA by 
the Melchites, but the efforts of the Monophysites 
triumphed, at least in Nobatia. That the work of 
conversion was very rapid and complete is suggest¬ 
ed by the archaeological evidence from Nubian 
cemeteries, where we find an abrupt and complete 
disappearance of pagan burial practices in the later 
sixth century. 

Shortly after the coming of Christianity, Nobatia 
ceased to be an independent kingdom and became 
a dependency of the larger medieval kingdom of 
makouria. which bordered Nobatia on the south. 
The circumstances that led to this conquest or 
merger are not historically recorded. Thereafter 
Nobatia was ruled not by a king but by an eparch 
appointed by the king of Makouria. However, the 
northern region continued to carry the toponym 
Nobatia, and its ruler was designated as the eparch 
of Nobatia or the eparch of the Nobatians. In later 
medieval Coptic and Arabic sources the region is 
also sometimes designated as the province of al- 

In the fourteenth century the kingdom of 
Makouria disintegrated, and Lower Nubia once 
again became politically independent. However, it 
came to be known at this time as the kingdom of 
DOTAWO, and the toponym Nobatia was no longer- 




Adams, W. Y. Nubia, Corridor to Africa, pp. 438-71. 
Princeton, N.J., 1977. 

Kirwan, L. P. "Notes on the Topography of the 
Christian Nubian Kingdoms.” Journal of Egyptian 
Archaeology 21 (1935):58-61. 

Monneret de Villard, U. Storia della Nubia cristiana, 
pp. 36-95. Orientalia Christiana Analecta 118. 
Rome, 1938. 

Vantini, G. Christianity in the Sudan, pp. 36-82. 
Bologna, 1981. 

William Y. Adams 

NOBATIA, EPARCH OF. The Nubian kingdom 
of nobatia was subjugated by the larger kingdom of 
MAKOURIA in the seventh century. Nobatia thereafter- 
lost its independence but not its name or separate 
identity. It was governed throughout the Middle 
Ages by a kind of viceroy, the eparch of Nobatia, 
who was appointed by the king of Makouria. In the 
earlier medieval period the eparch had his princi¬ 
pal residence at PARAS. When the disturbed condi¬ 
tions of later medieval times demanded a more 
militarily secure base, the eparchal residence was 
transferred first to qasr ibrIm and finally to jabai. 
addA, It is evident, however, that the eparchs, like 
the kings of Makouria, had residences in more than 
one place. 

The eparchs of Nobatia are mentioned in a num¬ 
ber of medieval Arabic texts, usually under the title 
Lord of the Mountain. The source of this epithet is 
obscure. It does not appear in documents written 
by the Nubians themselves, where the title "ep¬ 
arch" is always used. Since the Arabic texts are 
unpointed, Hinds (cited in Plumlcy, 1970. p. 14) has 
suggested a reading of the eparch's Arabic title as 
"Lord of the Horses” rather than as "Lord of the 
Mountain," but this suggestion is rejected by Vanti¬ 
ni (1975, pp. 478-79, 602). It may be noted that at 
a later date the viziers of the Funj sultanate, in the 
central Sudan, bore the title Sid al-Kom (Lord of 
the Heap), which might conceivably be a latter-day 
derivative of "Lord of the Mountain.” 

The eparch oi Nobatia was evidently a tine vice¬ 
roy, to whom many of the king's traditional powers 
were delegated. Like the king, he could found 
churches and celebrate the mass. Among the 
medieval church murals preserved at Karas (sec 
PARAS murals) and 'Abd al-Oadir there arc a number 
of portraits of eparchs, who are typically shown in 
the same rich garb and in the same stylized poses 

as are the Nubian kings. They are, however, depict¬ 
ed wearing a distinctive double-horned headdress, 
which was evidently emblematic of their office. At 
'Abd al-Qadir, one late medieval eparch is shown 
holding a model of the church in his hands. 

Additional information about the eparchs has 
come from a great many letters, both official and 
private, found in the archaeological excavations at 
Qasr ibrIm. These make it clear that one of the 
eparch's chief responsibilities was the conduct of 
relations with Muslim K.gypt, and with Muslims who 
traveled and traded in Nubia. According to ibn salIm 
al-ASWAnI. Nobatia in the tenth century was a free 
trade zone in which Egyptians could trade freely, 
and where Egyptian money was in circulation. By 
contrast, the upriver territories of Makouria were 
closed to foreign traders. All cargoes destined for 
Makouria were delivered into the hands of the ep¬ 
arch, who then forwarded them to the king of 

One group of twelfth-century letters found at 
Qasr IbrIm refers to commercial transactions be¬ 
tween the eparch and a Fatimid palace official, who 
handled cargoes and sold slaves on behalf of the 
king of Makouria. Much of the other eparchal cor¬ 
respondence relates in one way or another to com¬ 
merce. A command of the Arabic language must 
have been one of the qualifications for office, for 
many of the letters addressed to the eparch are in 
Arabic, although most of those written by him are 
in Old Nubian. 

Some late medieval Arab writers apparently be¬ 
lieved that the eparchal office was hereditary, but 
there is no good evidence to support this. Indeed, 
in one of the letters found at Qasr IbrIm, a son 
congratulates his father on his appointment as ep¬ 


Adams, W. Y. Nubia, Corridor to Africa, pp. 464-69, 
526-27, 534-35. Princeton, N.J., 1977. 

Arkell, A. J. A History of the Sudan, from the Earliest 
Times to 1821, 2nd ed., pp. 191-93. London, 

Plumlcy, J. M. "Qasr Ibrim 1969.” Journal of Egyp¬ 
tian Archaeology 56 (1970): 12-18. 

-"The Christian Period at Qasr Ibrim: Some 

Notes on the MSS Finds.” In Nubia, recentes re - 
cherches, ed. K. Michalowski. Warsaw, 1975. 
Vantini, G. Oriental Sources Concerning Nubia, pp. 

478-79, 602. Warsaw and Heidelberg, 1975. 

— Christianity in the Sudan, pp. 72-81, 118- 
26. Bologna, 1981. 

William Y. Adams 




cal documents are preserved either in chronologi¬ 
cal collections, in which the texts appear in the 
order in which they were published, or in nomoc- 
anons, in which texts are grouped according to sub¬ 
ject to facilitate consultation. It appears that the 
Greeks invented this method of presentation and 
were imitated by the Copts, not in the Coptic peri¬ 
od, before the Arab conquest, but in the Islamic 

It seems that the first author to compile a nomo- 
canon was the patriarch GABRIEL II1BN turayk (1131- 
1145). 'Phis is known from the testimonies of MlKH- 
AiL, bishop of Damietta, in his Nomocannn (chap. 
34, principal article [National Library, Paris, Arab. 
4728, fol. 74v], and chap. 72, title article (National 
Library, Paris, Arab. 4728, fol. I77vj); al-$AFl ibn 
AL-'ASSAl in his Nomocanon (preface [Borg. Arab. 
230, fols. 74v-75v]); and Abu al-Barakiit iiin kabar 
in his religious encyclopedia Misbah al-Zulmah 
(1971, pp. 203-204) that the patriarch had com¬ 
piled a nomocanon. The manuscript was thought 
not to have survived, but R.-G. Coquin found this 
text among the manuscripts of the Patriarchal Li¬ 
brary in Cairo. Ibn Kabar, however, preserved the 
table of the chapters, which allows one to compare 
it with that of the manuscript Canon 3 and thus 
discover in it the Nomocanon of Gabriel II. In addi¬ 
tion, Mikha’il of Damietta had reproduced in an 
appendix to his own Nomocanon the compendium 
that Gabriel II had composed of the four "Books of 
the Kings," thus saving the work of his predecessor 
from oblivion. The details were given, in a German 
translation, by W. Riedel (1900, pp. 114-15). 

The second Coptic author to compose a canoni¬ 
cal nomocanon was Mikha’il of Damietta, under the 
patriarchs mark hi and John IV. Of this nomocanon 
he made two editions, the first of which was com¬ 
pleted in 1188; both are extant. The date 1188, 
which he himself gave, is the only certain dale in 
his life, for neither the date of his birth nor that of 
his death is known. 

The third nomocanon is the one that had the 
greatest success. It was translated into Gc'ez (Ethi- 
opic) under the name of Fetha Nagasl, becoming 
thus the code of civil and religious law in Ethiopia. 
This is the one by the eldest of the children of the 
Awlad al-'Assal family, al-safI ibn al’ASSAl. This per¬ 
son was the secretary and juridical counselor of the 
patriarch cyrii. iii ibn i.aqIj\q (1235-1243). His 
Nomocanon was probably written to order, and 
since the patriarch was not satisfied with a first 
composition, which is preserved in manuscript, he 

demanded a second, which has been edited by Mur- 
qus Jiijis as Kitab al-Qawanin (1927). Some idea of 
its content is found in the analysis given in German 
by Riedel (1900, pp. 65-66, 115-19). Al-Safl ibn 
al-'Assal seems to have begun to write in 1235. He 
would have been dead before 1260. Even today it is 
still the Nomocanon of al-Safi ibn al-'Assal that is 


Coquin, R.-G. Les Canons d'Hippolyte. PO 31, fasc. 
2, pp. 279-83. Paris, 1966. This presents the vari¬ 
ous nomocanons. 

Riedel, W. Die Kirchenrechisquellen des Patri- 
archats Alexandrian. Leipzig, 1900; repr. Aalen, 


NONNOS OF PANOPOLIS (b.c. 400), com¬ 
poser of the Dionysiaka, the longest epic in Greek 
literature, in forty-eight books. In it he depicts, in 
hexameters, the story of Dionysus from his birth to 
his apotheosis, dealing in particular detail with his 
expedition to India. He transforms the Calli- 
machean form of the hexameter into the Nonriian, 
which can be found in other writers down to the 
seventh century. While the Dionysiaka shows No¬ 
il nos as a syncretistic pagan, his paraphrase of 
John’s Gospel in Nonnian hexameters ( Clavis Patro- 
lo^ia Graeco 5641) is probably to be regarded as a 
work of Nonnos' old age, after his conversion to 
Christianity. Nonnos is the most important epic 
poet not only of the filth century but of the imperial 
period. He influenced a series of poets, not all of 
whom were born in his native town of Panopolis. 
Among his followers were pamprepius of panopolis, 
Triphiodoros of Panopolis (probably from the sec¬ 
ond half of the fifth century), Colluthus of Lycopolis 
(in the time of Emperor Anastasius I [491-518]), 
and christodoros of coptos (cf. Krause, 1985, col. 


Keydell, R. "Nonnos von Panopolis." In Realencyc- 
lopiidie der classischen Aliertumswissenschaft, 
Vol. 33, cols. 904-920. Stuttgart, 1936. 

- Nonni Panopolitani Dionysiaca. Berlin, 


Krause, M. "Agypten II (literaturgeschichtlich)." In 
Reallexikon fur Aniike und Christentum, Supp. I, 
cols. 14-51, 68-88. Stuttgart, 1985. 


Peck, W. Lexikon zu den Dionysiaka des Nonnos. 

Hildesheim and Berlin, 1968. 

Simon, E. "Nonnos und das Elf'enbeinkastclien Ver- 
oli.” Jahrhuch des Deutschen arch'dologischen In- 
stituts 79 (1964):279-336. 

Wifslrand, A. Von Kalliniachos zu Nonnos. Lund, 

Martin Krause 

NOVATIANISM. See Cyril I, Saim. 

NUBIA. The region of Nubia, the land of the Nubi¬ 
ans. is usually though! of today as comprising the 
Nile Valley from Aswan in Egypt to Debba in north¬ 
ern Sudan. However, the toponym has not had a 
consistent meaning for either medieval or modern 
writers. For some, it is a geographic term, designat¬ 
ing a distinctive part of the Nile Valley where the 
river's course is broken by cataracts and rocky out¬ 
crops and where the floodplain is narrow and dis¬ 
continuous. For others, it is an ethnic and linguistic 
term, designating the area occupied bv speakers of 
the Nubian languages. In the latter sense Nubia 
does not have fixed boundaries, especially in the 
south, because the area occupied by Nubian speak¬ 
ers has shrunk considerably since the Middle Ages. 
The name is never used in a purely political sense, 
for Nubia in medieval and modern times was only 
once and briefly united under a single ruler. 

Various Nubian-speaking peoples, such as the 
noba, Makkourai, and Nobadae, are mentioned by 
classical writers as living west of the Nile. However, 
the toponym Nubia does not appear before the ear¬ 
ly Middle Ages, when the Nubian speakers had mi¬ 
grated into the Nile Valley and had taken posses¬ 
sion of the former territories of the empire of KUSH. 
In Arabic texts it is occasionally used as a synonym 
for the northern Nubian kingdom of nobatia, but 
more commonly it designates the whole area occu¬ 
pied by Nubian speakers, between Aswan and the 
confluence of the Blue and White Niles. The topo¬ 
nym Nubia appears also in some Coptic texts, but it 
was never employed by the Nubians themselves. 
They apparently had no sense of ethnic or linguistic 
unity, and always designated their separate king¬ 
doms by their individual names. 

At the beginning of the Middle Ages there were 
three Nubian-speaking kingdoms: Nobatia in the 
north, MAKOURIA in the middle, and 'ALWA in the 
south. All of them were converted to Monophysite 
Christianity in the sixth century. Shortly afterward 

Nobatia and Makouria were merged under one 
ruler, but like England and Scotland they kept their 
separate names and identities. 

Most of the Christian Nubian kingdoms, protected 
from Islamic invasion by the BAOT treaty, persisted 
until late in the fifteenth century. At that time large 
pails of their territory were overrun by Arab no¬ 
mads, the kingdoms broke up into warring princi¬ 
palities, and Christianity rapidly gave way to Islam. 
In time the separate principalities were brought un¬ 
der a loose hegemony, by the Funj sultanate in 
central Sudan and by the Ottoman pashas in Egypt. 
The whole of Nubia was temporarily reunited under 
a single ruler when Muhammad 'All annexed the 
Sudan in 1821, but this reunion ended with the 
triumph of the Mahdist uprising in 1883. At that 
time the more southerly parts of Nubia fell under 
Mahdist control, while the north remained in Egyp¬ 
tian hands. Under the Anglo-Egyptian condominium 
agreement of 1899, the area north of latitude 22° 
was formally annexed to Egypt, while the remain¬ 
der of Nubia became a part of the Anglo-Egyptian 
Sudan, which in turn became the Republic of the 

Geographical usage conventionally divides Nubia 
into two unequal parts: Lower Nubia, between the 
First and Second Nile Cataracts, and upper Nubia, 
beyond the Second Cataract. This distinction is 
based mainly on geographical rather than political 
or ethnic differences, for the frontier between the 
different medieval kingdoms and between different 
Nubian language groups did not coincide with the 
frontier between Lower and Upper Nubia. Howev¬ 
er, the current Egyptian-Sudanese political frontier 
is fairly close to the Second Cataract, with the re¬ 
sult that most of Lower Nubia is in Egypt, while all 
of Upper Nubia is in the Sudan. 

The whole of Lower Nubia, as well as a consider¬ 
able part of Upper Nubia, was inundated by the 
building of the successive Aswan dams, resulting in 
a wholesale displacement of the indigenous popula¬ 
tion. As a result, only about half of the former 
territory of Nubia continues to be inhabited. How¬ 
ever, some colonics of Nubians have recently rees¬ 
tablished themselves on the shores of Lake Nasser. 

[See also: Nubian Languages and Literature.] 


Adams, W. Y. Nubia, Corridor to Africa, Princeton, 

N.J., 1977. 

Emery, W. B. Egypt in Nubia. London, 1965. 

Millet. N. B. "Meroitic Nubia." Doctoral disserta¬ 
tion. Yale University, 1968. 



Monneret do Villard, U. Storia della Nubia cristiana. 
Orientalia Christiana Analecta 118. Rome, 1938. 

- La Nubia romana. Rome, 1941. 

Save-Soderbergh, T. Agypten und Nubien. Lund, 

Trigger, B. G. Nubia under the Pharaohs . London, 

Vantini, G. Oriental Sources Concerning Nubia. Hei¬ 
delberg and Warsaw, 1975. 

-- Christianity in the Sudan, pp. 21-207. Bolo¬ 
gna, 1981. 

William Y. Adams 


not a pari of the Roman empire, and thus did not 
follow Egypt into the Christian fold in the fourth 
century. The worship of the ancient Egyptian dei¬ 
ties, and particularly of Isis, lived on for another 
two centuries, and Nubian votaries were permitted 
by the Roman authorities to worship in the Temple 
of Isis at PHILAE. 

In the sixth century, Christian Egypt was rent by 
the dispute between Monophysites and Melchites, 
and it was apparently this dispute that prompted 
both parties to attempt the conversion of the Nubi¬ 
ans to their respective causes. Both apparently had 
some initial success, but the final triumph went to 
the Monophysites, and Nubia became an integral 
part of the Coptic world. 

Information about the conversion of Nubia to 
Christianity comes from two contemporary writers, 
John of Ephesus and John of Biclarum, and two 
later ones, Kutychius and Michael the Syrian. The 
fullest as well as the most entertaining account is 
that in the Ecclesiastical History of John of Ephesus. 
According to this source, the idea of converting the 
Nubians was first put forward by a Monophysitc 
priest named JULIAN. He sought and obtained from 
the Byzantine empress Theodora a commission to 
undertake missionary work in the northern Nubian 
kingdom of NOBATIA. When Emperor Justinian was 
apprised of this, he ordered that a Melchite mission 
be sent to Nobatia instead. Theodora then secretly 
arranged that the Melchite missionaries be detained 
in Egypt, with the result that Julian arrived on the 
Nubian scene first, in 543. According to John of 
Ephesus, his mission was warmly received, and the 
conversion of the Nobatian king and his subjects 
soon followed. Julian remained in Nobatia for two 
years, and then was succeeded by a certain Theo¬ 
dore, bishop of Philae, who continued the work of 
evangelization until 551. After his departure there 

was an interruption of missionary activity until the 
arrival of LONGINUS in 569. According to John of 
Ephesus, it was Longinus who completed the con¬ 
version of the northern Nubian kingdom. 

It is not entirely clear how rapidly the Christiani¬ 
zation of Nobatia proceeded. All accounts agree in 
suggesting that the process of conversion began 
with the king, who welcomed and perhaps even 
invited the Monophysitc missionaries, and that after 
his conversion, that of his subjects rapidly followed. 
This might be dismissed as reflecting the biased 
outlook of ardent Christian propagandists, but the 
cemeteries of Lower Nubia do suggest a very rapid 
replacement of pagan by Christian burial practices 
in the latter half of the sixth century (see Nubian 

South of Nobatia lay the Nubian kingdom of MA- 
KKOURAI, which in the sixth century was apparently 
on bad terms with its northern neighbor. Perhaps 
for this reason, neither Julian nor Theodore seems 
to have made any attempt to preach among the 
Makkourai. Nevertheless there is evidence, both di¬ 
rect and indirect, of the conversion of Makouria to 
Christianity before the end of the sixth century. 
What little direct information is available comes 
from a Spanish monk, John of Biclarum, who re¬ 
cords that around 568 the people of Makouria re¬ 
ceived the faith of Christ. Five years later, accord¬ 
ing to the same source, a delegation of Makkourai 
arrived at Constantinople, bringing gifts to the em¬ 
peror. This testimony, together with other textual 
allusions, has been taken as suggesting that the 
original conversion of the Makkourai was to the 
Melchite rather than to the Monophysite cause. EU- 
TYCHIUS, writing at a much later date, states categor¬ 
ically that the “Nubians’' (by whom he presumably 
meant the Makkourai) became Jacobites during the 
interval between 637 and 731, when there was no 
Melchite patriarch in Alexandria. However, the evi¬ 
dence on this issue is not incontrovertible, and 
some scholars argue that Makouria, like Nobatia, 
was Monophysite from the beginning. Certainly it 
was so after the seventh century. 

The conversion of the southern Nubian kingdom 
of *alwA was undertaken by the same Longinus who 
had earlier worked for six years in Nobatia. The 
account of his work comes once again from John of 
Ephesus. According to John, as early as 575 the 
king of 'Aiwa had sent a letter to Longinus, asking 
him to extend his missionary labors into the south¬ 
ern kingdom. However, the letter arrived in Noba¬ 
tia after Longinus had left for Egypt, and because of 
a political dispute within the patriarchate he was 



not able to return to Nubia for five years. In the 
meantime, according to John of Ephesus, Melchite 
missionaries had made an effort to convert the peo¬ 
ple of 'Aiwa but were rebuffed by the Nubians, who 
would accept no one but Longinus. 

In 580 Longinus reappeared in Nobatia, and al¬ 
most immediately afterward set out for 'Aiwa. Be¬ 
cause of the hostility of the king of Makouria, he 
could not travel directly up the Nile, but had to 
take a roundabout route through the Eastern Desen 
in the company of a HFJA camel caravan. Eventual¬ 
ly, after considerable privations along the way, he 
arrived in 'Alw&, where he was met by a royal wel¬ 
coming party. The conversion of the king and his 
subjects immediately followed. This completed the 
conversion of the three main Nubian kingdoms, 
which thereafter remained faithfully in the Chris¬ 
tian fold for nearly a thousand years. 

The accounts given by John of Ephesus and John 
of Biclarum of the rapid and easy conversion of the 
Nubians are undoubtedly colored by the religious 
zeal of the authors. Nevertheless, there can be little 
doubt that the evangelists found a highly favorable 
climate for their work in the Nubian kingdoms. 
Egypt by then had already been in the Christian fold 
for more than 200 years, and Nubians traveling to 
Philae and other Egyptian towns had plenty of op¬ 
portunity to observe the newly built churches, 
many of them made by the conversion of older 
temples, and to absorb some of the influences of 
the new faith. This latter development is reflected 
in the Christian paraphernalia found in late pagan 
graves in Nubia (see bai.i^na kingdom and cul¬ 
ture). There was, moreover, a colony of Egyptians 
resident within Nubia at qa$r ibrIm, and their con¬ 
version to Christianity may actually have preceded 
that of the Nobatian monarchy. There may also 
have been private missionary activity in Nubia prior 
to the royally sponsored missions of 543. axum, the 
Abyssinian kingdom that adjoined Nubia to the 
southeast, had, like Egypt, been Christian since the 
fourth century, so that the Nubians were subject to 
Christian influences both from the north and from 
the south. When Longinus arrived in 'Aiwa in 580, 
he found Christian emissaries from Axum already 
on the scene. 

The very rapid transformation of Nubian culture 
wrought by the acceptance of the new faith is evi¬ 
dent in the archaeological remains of seventh-cen¬ 
tury town and village sites, as well as in the Nubian 

[See also: Julian, Evangelist; Longinus, Evange¬ 


Adams, W. Y. Nubia, Corridor lo Africa, pp. 433-45. 
Princeton, N.J., 1977. 

Donadoni, S. "Les Debuts du christianisme en Nu- 
bie.” Memoires de VInstitut d’Egypte 59 (1969):25- 

John of Ephesus. Historiae ecclesiasticae pars lertia, 
ed. E. W. Brooks. CSCO 105-106, Scriptores Syri, 
ser. 3, vol. 3. Louvain, 1952. Reprint of 1935- 
1936 edition. 

Kirwan, L. P. "Studies in the Later His to 17 of Nu¬ 
bia." University of Liverpool Annals of Archaeolo¬ 
gy and Anthropology 24 (1937):88— 105. 

__ The Oxford University Excavations at Firka, 

pp. 49-51. London, 1939. 

-"Prelude to Nubian Christianity." In Me¬ 
langes offerts a Kazimierz Michalowski, ed. M. L. 
Bernhard, pp. 121-28. Warsaw, 1966. 

Kraus, J. Die Anfiinge des Christentmns in Nnbien. 
Vienna, 1930. 

Monneret de Villard, U. S tori a della Ntd?ia cristiana, 
pp. 61-70. Orientalia Christiana Analecta 118. 
Rome, 1938. 

Vantini, G. Christianity in the Sudan, pp. 33-50. 
Bologna, 1981. 

William Y. Adams 

Middle Ages, the peoples of Nubia adhered almost 
exclusively to the Coptic Christian faith. They had 
successfully resisted two Arab invasions, in 642 and 
652, and subsequently concluded the baqt treaty. 
which ensured them against further Islamic incur¬ 
sions for several centuries. Muslim merchants from 
Egypt were allowed to travel and to settle in Lower 
Nubia, but there is no evidence that they sought or 
made any converts among their Nubian neighbors. 
Arab chroniclers described the Nubians as being 
mainly Christians in the fourteenth century, and 
recent textual finds have shown that parts of Lower 
Nubia were still Christian at the end of the fifteenth 
century. Yet, when J. L. Burckhardt, the first Euro¬ 
pean visitor of modern times, passed through Nubia 
in 1811-1812, he found no surviving trace of the 
Christian faith. All of the Nubians professed a nomi¬ 
nal allegiance to Islam, although Burckhardt also 
observed that "the only prayer known to [most of 
them] is the expression Allahu Akbar [God is 
great]" (1822, pp. 136-37). 

The circumstances of Nubia's transition from 
Christianity to Islam arc obscure, for it took place 
at a time for which historical records are almost 
entirely lacking. From the available evidence, how- 



ever, it appears that the demise of Christianity and 
the adoption of Islam cannot be viewed as closely 
linked events. Christianity disappeared apparently 
very gradually after the loss of contact between the 
Nubian church and Alexandria, while Islam at a 
later date seeped into the void left by the disappear¬ 
ance of the earlier faith. Moreover, different factors 
seem to have contributed to the Islam i/at ion of the 
Nubians in different parts of the country. 

As early as 1235 the patriarch of Alexandria had 
refused to send bishops into Nubia, because of dis¬ 
turbed political conditions in the country. This poli¬ 
cy was not consistently followed by later patriarchs, 
and as late as 1372 a certain Bishop Timotheus was 
dispatched to Phrim (Qasr Ibrim), in Lower Nubia. 
However, there is no record of any further contact 
between the Nubian church and Alexandria after 
that date. The apostolic succession was therefore 
weakened, if not broken, and knowledge of the 
Christian liturgy probably diminished with each 
passing generation. In 1540 a delegation of Nubians 
called on the emperor of Abyssinia, asking him to 
send priests and monks to teach them, but he re¬ 
sponded that he had no authority to do so. Thus, it 
seems likely that in the absence of any renewal 
from abroad, the Nubian clergy gradually dwindled 

At the same time, the Nubian church lost the 
support of the ruling monarchs. In 1323 the ruler 
of MAKOURIA, the largest Nubian kingdom, became a 
Muslim, although it is clear that the majority of his 
subjects did not immediately follow. Farther to the 
north, the smaller kingdom of ootawo remained 
under a Christian ruler until at least 1484, but a 
generation later its territories were overrun and 
annexed by the Ottomans. To the south of Mak- 
ouria, the kingdom of 'AlwA remained under a 
Christian ruler until sometime around 1500, when 
it was defeated and absorbed by the Funj sultanate 
of Sennar. Thus, by the end of the fifteenth century, 
all of Nubia had passed under the control of Mus¬ 
lim rulers. There is no evidence that the new mon¬ 
archs attempted forcibly to convert their subjects to 
their own faith, but it is nevertheless probable that 
the church as an organized entity lost much of its 
strength when it was no longer actively supported 
by the rulers. 

Another factor contributing to the Islamization of 
Nubia was the wholesale migration of Arab bedouin 
tribes into the Sudan at the end of the Middle Ages, 
partly from Egypt and partly from the Arabian Pen¬ 
insula. The immigrants overran most of the territo¬ 
ry of 'Aiwa and a part of that of Makouria, establish¬ 

ing a number of petty principalities ruled by tribal 
shaykhs, who in turn were subject to the sultan of 
Sennar. The newcomers intermarried extensively 
with the settled Nubian population and, in time, 
were absorbed into it. Their knowledge of Islamic 
doctrine was probably no more than minimal, but 
they nevertheless conferred a sense of Islamic iden¬ 
tity on their offspring. This was specifically true in 
the case of the Kanuz, the most northerly of the 
Nubian peoples, who became converted to Islam 
through their amalgamation with the Arab-Beja 
tribe of the HAND ALKANZ. They were probably the 
first of the Nubian groups to become Islamic. At a 
somewhat later date, the same phenomenon of con¬ 
version by intermarriage was noted by the historian 
Ibn Khaldun among the Nubians of the DONGOI.A 

In spite of these developments, there are a num¬ 
ber of references to the continued presence of Nu¬ 
bian Christians in the sixteenth century and even 
the seventeenth. The last known reference to them 
dates from the year 1742, when a missionary friar 
reported hearing of a small surviving colony of 
Christians living somewhere in the vicinity of the 
Third Cataract of the Nile. It was said, however, 
that there were neither priests nor monks among 

Meanwhile, active propagation of Islam began in 
the central Sudan early in the sixteenth century, 
within the territories of the Funj sultanate. At the 
invitation of the Funj rulers, a number of learned 
religious mystics came to found schools at various 
places, mostly along the middle reaches of the 
White Nile, above the site of present-day Khartoum. 
Sudanese tradition attributes the Islamization of the 
country entirely to these pioneers, whose biogra¬ 
phies are preserved in the extraordinary Tabaqdt 
(story) written by Wad Dayfallah, set down at the 
beginning of the nineteenth century. 

The missionaries were all schooled in the Sufi 
tradition and were either members or founders of 
turuq (orders). In traditional Sufi fashion, they did 
not travel around the country but settled in a single 
place and gathered disciples about them. The disci¬ 
ples later went forth to cany the teachings of their 
masters to other parts of the Sudan and Nubia; as 
often as not, they became wall (founders of local 
orders) in their own right. It is therefore not sur¬ 
prising that Sudanese and Nubian Islam came to be 
dominated by the Sufic traditions of tartqah and 
wd/i. By modern times the faith of the Nubians had 
come to include a whole galaxy of local saints; 
indeed, more than 150 such saints were recognized 



in the single Lower Nubian community of Delimit 
in the 1960s. After the founding of the Mirghaniy- 
yah or Khatmiyyah order in the last century, how¬ 
ever, the majority of Nubians also became affiliated 
with this very widespread sect, which has branches 
both in the Sudan and in Saudi Arabia. 

The formal teaching of Islam seems to have been 
confined largely to the Funj territories in the cen¬ 
tral Sudan, the areas where large numbers of Arab 
migrants had already settled. There is virtually no 
evidence of bedouin migrations to the driest parts 
of Nubia, comprising ba^n ai.ha.iar and the more 
southerly parts of Lower Nubia, and there is also no 
evidence of formal religious schools in this area 
before the nineteenth century. It is not surprising, 
therefore, that the last surviving mention of Chris¬ 
tians in Nubia comes from just this region or that 
Burckhardt (1822, pp. 136-37), at the beginning of 
the nineteenth century, found that the Nubians here- 
had only the sketchiest knowledge of Islamic doc¬ 
trine. Their nominal conversion to Islam can prob¬ 
ably be attributed simply to the circumstance of 
Ottoman rule, which was established in Lower Nu¬ 
bia and Batn al-IIajar sometime in the sixteenth 

In the nineteenth century, two factors contribut¬ 
ed to the development of a fuller Islamic religious 
life among the Nubians. The first was the reestab¬ 
lishment of Egyptian administrative control over 
the Sudan, following the invasion of Ismail Pasha in 
1821-1822. This led to the establishment of Egyp¬ 
tian colonies, and of mosques and schools in many 
of the towns of the Sudan. The second factor was 
the founding of the Mirghaniyyah or Khatmiyyah 
religious order by Muhammad 'Uthman al-Mir- 
ghanl, who resided for a time at Dongola and who 
married a Nubian woman. Nubian-speaking descen¬ 
dants of the MirghanI family have continued to gov¬ 
ern the order down to the present day, and so the 
Nubians can in some sense claim it as their own. 

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, under 
Egyptian and, later, British rule, the Nubian peo¬ 
ples catne increasingly to rely on education as a 
means for social and economic advancement. They 
became, and remain today, by far the most highly 
educated population element in the Sudan, and 
their dedication to learning has included religious 
as well as secular learning. Thus has it come about 
that the Nubians, whose knowledge of Islam two 
hundred years ago was no more than minimal, have 
today a reputation for exceptional piety among 
their Sudanese and Egyptian neighbors. 


Adams, W. Y. Nubia. Corridor to Africa, pp. 539-91. 
Princeton, N.J., 1977. 

Burckhardt, .1. L. Travels in Nubia, 2nd ed., London, 

Hasan. Y. F. The Arabs and the Sudan, pp. 90-181. 
Edinburgh, 1967. 

Kennedy, J. G., ed. Nubian Ceremonial Life. Berke¬ 
ley, Calif., 1978. 

Macmichael, II. A. A History of the Arabs in the 
Sudan, 2 vols. London, 1922. 

Trimingham, J. S. Islam in the Sudan. London, 

William Y. Adams 


Although Nubia was a part of the world of Coptic 
Christendom throughout the Middle Ages, the re¬ 
gion was very rarely visited, and still less often 
described, by Egyptians. Almost the only firsthand 
accounts of medieval nuiha that survive are those of 
i bn hawqal and IBN salIm al-aswAnI, and both arc 
preserved only in abbreviated form. The Nubians 
wrote little about themselves. As a result, knowl¬ 
edge of the art and the culture of medieval Nubia 
comes largely from archaeology. 

The investigation of medieval Nubian remains 
was mostly neglected by the First Archaeological 
Survey of Nubia, which explored the region be¬ 
tween Aswan and Wadi al-Sibu'ah in 1907-1911. 
This deficiency was partly offset by the pioneering 
excavations of F. L. GRIFFITH in the churches and 
cemeteries at faras. and by the early studies of 
Nubian church architecture made by G. S. Mileham 
and by Somers Clarke. During the Second Archaeo¬ 
logical Survey of Nubia (1929-1934) there was 
again no attention to Christian remains by the prin¬ 
cipal investigators, but during the same period Ugo 
MONNERET DE VILLARD made a thorough inventory of 
churches and other medieval remains between As¬ 
wan and Khartoum. His four-volume La Nubia 
medioevale remains the most comprehensive survey 
work on medieval Nubian archaeology that has 
been published. 

P. L. Shinnie, during his term as Sudanese com¬ 
missioner for archaeology' (1948-1955), did much 
to advance the study of medieval Nubian archaeolo¬ 
gy through his excavations in the townsite of soba 
and in the monastery at Ghazdll. These were the 
first field investigations to employ acceptable pro¬ 
fessional standards of excavation. The real break- 



through in medieval Nubian archaeology came, 
however, in the decade between I960 and 1970, as 
a result of the International Campaign to Save the 
Monuments of Nubia. Excavations were carried out 
in more than fifty churches; in the major townsites 
of 0A$R ibrIm, jabal 'ADDA, and DONGOi-A. in more 
than a dozen smaller towns and villages; in a num¬ 
ber of large and small fortresses; and in monaster¬ 
ies, pottery workshops, and cemeteries. These exca¬ 
vations, now reported in more than fifty major 
publications, have provided a far more complete 
and more rounded picture of life in medieval Nubia 
than was formerly available. 

The medieval Nubians, as revealed through ar¬ 
chaeology, were primarily small farmers who dwelt 
in small and scattered villages along the Nile. There 
were only a few provincial towns in the country, 
and none of them approached in size the great 
urban centers of Egypt. The typical Nubian village, 
especially in the earlier Middle Ages, might com¬ 
prise from twenty to fifty houses, and from one to 
three churches. There were usually no other build¬ 
ings, and the settlements were unwalled. Houses 
were modest affairs of mud brick,'usually compris¬ 
ing from three to five rooms plus, in a few cases, an 
open courtyard. Most of the churches were also of 
mud brick and were relatively small and simple in 
design, but there were a few more imposing build¬ 
ings of rough or dressed stone. All of the churches, 
large and small, were elaborately decorated with 
brightly colored murals. 

The disturbed political conditions of the later 
Middle Ages are reflected in a change in Nubian 
living patterns. Many smaller and outlying settle¬ 
ments were abandoned as the population drew to¬ 
gether into larger and more defensible localities. 
There was a wholesale movement of settlers into 
the rugged and isolated BATN al-hajar region, which 
previously had counted few inhabitants. Many of 
the late settlements, both in Batn al-Hajar and in 
Lower Nubia, had defensive walls. In the twelfth or 
thirteenth century there appeared a new type of 
two-story fortified dwelling, which over time 
evolved into a kind of miniature castle. Churches in 
the meantime became smaller and simpler, so that 
by the end of the Middle Ages the castle had re¬ 
placed the church as the main architectural expres¬ 
sion of Nubian civilization. 

The most highly developed arts of the medieval 
Nubians were church decoration, pottcrv decora¬ 
tion, and weaving. Other important manufactures 
were ironwork, various kinds of ornamental as well 

as utilitarian woodwork, leatherwork, and basketry. 
Abundant examples of all these industries have 
been found in the well-preserved townsite of Oa$k 
IBRIM. Bronzeware, glass, glazed pottery, and cer¬ 
tain kinds of fine textiles were imported from 
Egypt, as were such luxury foodstuffs as olive oil 
and wine. In exchange the Nubians sent slaves, and 
possibly cotton goods and ivory, to their northern 
neighbors. Evidence of this trade is found both ar- 
chaeologically and in the recorded texts of the BAOT 

That the medieval Nubians were devout Chris¬ 
tians is attested by many aspects of their everyday 
life and culture. Nearly every community of any 
size had its church or churches. The number of 
such buildings sometimes appears out of all propor¬ 
tion to the needs of the immediately surrounding 
settlements. Most of the surviving literature, in Cop¬ 
tic, Greek, and Old Nubian alike, is of a religious 
nature. Specifically religious motifs, such as decora¬ 
tive crosses, doves, and fishes, were employed in 
pottery decoration, and religious mottoes or caba¬ 
listic symbols were inscribed on house and church 
walls, on pottery vessels, and on the nearby cliffs 
and rocks. The archangel Michael evidently con¬ 
ferred especial protective power, for his name oc¬ 
curs in votive inscriptions far more often than does 
that of any other holy personage. 

Every settlement had its cemetery, sometimes ad¬ 
joining the church and sometimes removed from it. 
Medieval Nubian mortuary practices were austerely 
simple, especially in contrast with the elaborate 
mortuary cult of the immediate pre-Christian peri¬ 
od. The was wrapped in a shroud and was 
laid on its back in a plain rectangular pit, oriented 
toward the west. Usually there were no grave offer¬ 
ings, but a few of the Nubian bishops were gor¬ 
geously attired and were accompanied by crosses 
and staffs of office, and in one instance by pottery 

Ostentation in mortuary practice is observable 
chiefly above ground. Many graves were marked 
only by a paving of bricks or stones, but others had 
more elaborate superstructures. An especially popu¬ 
lar form of grave covering was a small brick masta* 
ba about 24 inches (60 cm) high, with a cross in 
raised relief on the top. Still more elaborate super¬ 
structures were cruciform mastabas and small qub- 
has (dome-shaped edifices). Nearly all superstruc¬ 
tures, whether elaborate or simple, had at the west 
end a small, rectangular brick-lined niche in which 
a votive lamp could burn. Some tombs, especially 


of ecclesiastical officials, had attached to them an 
ornamental stela bearing the euchologion mega or 
some other popular funerary formula. 

The study of medieval Nubian archaeology has 
made it possible to reeognize developmental trends 
in house architecture, church architecture, pottery, 
and textiles. These trends have permitted a division 
of the thousand-year period of Nubian Christianity 
into early, classic, late, and terminal Christian peri¬ 
ods, and sometimes into earlier and later subdivi¬ 
sions of the main periods. This chronological 
framework has in its turn been useful in suggesting 
the probable date of occupation for a great many 
Nubian archaeological sites for which no documen¬ 
tary evidence is available. 

[See also: Nubian Ceramics; Nubian Christian Ar¬ 
chitecture; Nubian Church An; Nubian Inscrip¬ 
tions, Medieval; Nubian Monasteries.] 


Adams, W. Y. "The Seven Ages of Christian Nubia." 
Kush 12 (!964):24l-47. 

-- "Architectural Evolution of the Nubian 

Church, 500-1400 A.D." Journal of the American 
Research Center in Egypt 4 (1965):87-139. 
-"The Evolution of Christian Nubian Pot¬ 
tery." In Kunst und Geschichte Nubiens in christ- 
licher Zeit, ed. E. Dinkier. Recklinghausen, 1970. 

- Nubia, Corridor to Africa, pp. 471-500, 510— 

21. Princeton, N.J., 1977. 

Clarke, S. Christian Antiquities in the Nile Valley, 
pp. 34-94. Oxford, 1912. 

Griffith, F. L. "Oxford Excavations in Nubia." Uni¬ 
versity of Liverpool Annals of Archaeology and An¬ 
thropology 13 (1926):57—86; 14 (1927):57-113. 
Milcham, G. S. Churches in Lower Nubia. University 
of Pennsylvania, Egyptian Department of the Uni¬ 
versity Museum, Eckley B. Coxe Junior Expedi¬ 
tion to Nubia 2 (1910). 

Monneret de Villard, U. La Nubia tnedioevale, 4 
vols. Cairo. 1935-1957. 

Shinnie, P. L. Excavations at Soba. Sudan Antiqui¬ 
ties Service, Occasional Papers, no. 3. Khartoum, 

-, and H. N. Chittick. Ghazali—a Monastery in 

the Northern Sudan. Sudan Antiquities Service, 
Occasional Papers, no. 5. Khartoum, 1961. 

William Y. Adams 

NUBIAN CERAMICS. The Nubians first learned 
the art of pottery making from their Egyptian neigh¬ 
bors, but almost from the beginning they followed 
traditions of their own in the use of color and deco¬ 

ration. Artistically, the best of the Nubian wares 
sometimes surpassed anything made in Egypt. This 
was true in the Nubian Meroitic period (c. 100- 
350), and again in the classic Christian period (c. 

Meroitic pottery decoration made abundant use 
of ancient Egyptian motifs such as the ankh, so, and 
wadjet eye. These were combined with Hellenistic 
floral patterns, various animal and bird representa¬ 
tions, and geometric designs to produce an elabo¬ 
rate and highly distinctive Nubian style that was 
applied mostly to the exteriors of fine cups and 
bowls, as well as to some larger jars and jugs. The 
preferred colors were dark brown and red on a 
cream or buff background, although there was also 
some decoration in black and cream on red. 

After the collapse of the empire of rush, around 
350, the whole tradition of Meroitic pottery decora¬ 
tion disappeared. Both in nubia and in Egypt there 
was a preference for plain red vessels imitative of 
Roman forms. Over the centuries the Nubians once 
again developed increasingly distinctive canons of 
forms and decoration, although their preference in 
the early Middle Ages was for very plain and aus¬ 
tere geometric designs. 

Around 850 there appeared, quite abruptly, the 
classic Christian decorative style. It comprised elab¬ 
orate combinations of floral, faunal, and curvilinear 
geometric designs, most of them inspired by Coptic 
and Byzantine manuscript illumination. The de¬ 
signs, as in Meroitic limes, were most often execut¬ 
ed in dark brown and red on a cream or yellow 
background. The most commonly decorated vessels 
were large vases and wide bowls. The classic Chris¬ 
tian pottery wares were made at faras and at a 
factory at or near the Wadi Ghazali monastery (see 
NUBIAN MONASTERIES). From these and probably 
oilier centers, they were widely traded all over Nu¬ 
bia and were evidently prized luxury possessions. 

In the later Middle Ages Nubian pottery under¬ 
went a further process of stylistic transformation. 
Most floral and faunal elements disappeared, and 
geometric designs gradually became more rectiline¬ 
ar, more formal, and more ornate. This tendency 
reached its apogee in the late Christian style (c. 
1200-1350), when the preference was for decora¬ 
tion in black on a red or bright orange background. 
In the last century of Nubian Christianity there was 
a rapid simplification of designs, and a return to 
rather plain and very boldly executed geometric 
patterns. With the fall of the Christian Nubian king¬ 
doms, the decorated pottery industry came to an 
end. The Nubians reverted exclusively to the use of 



Examples of Nubian ceramic vessels. Courtesy William Y. Adams. 

undecorated utility vessels. In its heyday, however, 
decorated pottery represented one of the two most 
highly developed and distinctive art forms of the 
medieval Nubians, the other being church decora¬ 

[Sec also: Nubian Archaeology, Medieval.] 


Adams, W. Y. "An Introductory Classification of 
Christian Nubian Pottery." Kush 10 (I962):245- 
88 . 

— — "An Introductory Classification of Mcroitic 
Pottery." Kush 12 (1964):126-73. 

-"The Involution of Christian Nubian Pot¬ 
tery." In Kunsl mid Geschichle Nubiens in christ- 
licher Zeit, ed. E. Dinkier. Recklinghausen, 1970. 

-"Progress Report on Nubian Pottery, I. The 

Native Wares." Kush 15 (1973):1 50. 

-"Medieval Nubian Design Elements." In 

Studies in Ancient I'gypt, the Aegean, and the Su¬ 
dan , ed. W. K. Simpson and W. M. Davis. Boston. 

William Y. Adams 


According to the testimony of John 01 I* missus (507- 
586), Nubia was evangelized in the second quarter 
of the sixth century by Julian and Thcodoms. bish¬ 

op ol Philae. Christianization quickly made great 
progress. From the end of the sixth century the 
country may accordingly be considered as essential 
ly Christian. A monumental Christian architecture 
in Nubia can be reckoned with only from this peri¬ 
od on. Individual hermits may indeed have con¬ 
ducted missionary campaigns even earlier, but this 
did not result in communities of a size capable of 
supporting and maintaining church buildings in the 
ordinary sense of the term. 

The oldest church buildings of the early Christian 
period (i.c., sixth centuiy) have been found in the 
chief towns of the country —paras (Pachoras, the 

capital of Nobatia) and Old DON GO LA (capital of MA- 
KOURIA), as well as the fortress of 0A$R ihkIm (Pri- 
mis). From the southernmost capital SOBA in 'Ai.wA 
there are as yet no relevant results from excava¬ 

Since Nubia was evangelized from Egypt, the 
church architecture is substantially determined by 
Egyptian models. This means that for the early 
Christian period the basilica in particular must be 
considered the leading type of building, with the 
special features current in Egypt at that time. To 
these belong the side rooms ol the apse, employed 
almost eveiywhere in Egypt since the fifth century, 
and also the return aisle. In addition to these, a 
feature special to Nubia was a connecting passage 
running along behind the apse, which was probably 


Plan of the five-aisled basilica at Old Dongola. Courtesy Peter Grossmarm. 

the result of a simplified development of the apse 
side-room plan, and has some representatives in 
Egypt also (Abu Mina, predecessor ol the East 
Church; Grossmann, 1980, pp. 222ff., tig. 8). In 
some churches in Nubia it appears verv early in¬ 
deed. However, it becomes canonical in the proper 
sense in the high Middle Ages, and then consists of 
a small simple passage that merely connects two 
apse side rooms one with the other. The basilica is 
usually constructed with three aisles. Examples of 
five-aisled basilicas have been found at Old Dongola 
and Qasr IbrTm. In Old Dongola there is in addition 
a kind of transept basilica, in which the central 

aisle is constructed normally. Only the outer side 
walls of the church turn outward in the eastern part 
of the naos, just before the sanctuary area, so that 
at this point the side aisles widen out. 

In the eighth century the building forms become 
richer. Both in Old Dongola and in Faras there 
were cruciform buildings with several aisles, which 
at the end of the transverse axis had exedras relat¬ 
ing to the central zone. There is no information so 
far about buildings of this kind in Egypt, though 
they must certainly have existed (a reduced repre¬ 
sentation of this type may be seen in the church of 
al-Hdyz Oasis). However, there are examples in 



North Africa, for example, in Danious al-Karita and 
Junca III. Alongside these churches there appears, 
from the seventh century on, a type of four pillared 
building with an ambulatory, equipped with corner 
pillars. Presumably it too follows in the train of 
preceding development in Egypt, and it can be 
traced, with some changes and simplifications, 
practically down to the end of Christian architec¬ 
ture in Nubia. 

From the early Middle Ages down to the begin¬ 
ning of the high Middle Ages the basilica remained 
to a large extent the leading form of building, 
alongside a modest development of buildings with a 
central core. Down to the tenth century, preference 
was given in particular to barrel-vaulted, pillared 
basilicas, of which several examples have been 
identified in the neighborhood of Faras. In front of 
the apse almost all examples contain a thick trans¬ 
verse wall with a wide central opening, which sig¬ 
nificantly extends only the breadth of the nave and 
thus clearly points to strong influence from Egypt. 
However, while in Egypt the area set apart in front 
of the apse was developed into the khfirus, in Nubia 
this motif was never employed. 

During the same period the western pail of the 
Nubian churches also assumed its final form. The 
western return aisle, present as in Egypt in the 
early Christian phase, was remodeled and merged 
with the staircase and a further corner room to 
form a group of three rooms, of which only the 
middle one could be entered directly from the naos 
of the church. It was open to the naos for almost its 
entire breadth, and in this form represents the for¬ 
mer western return aisle. Down to the thirteenth 
century this form of the western part remained ca¬ 
nonical, and was employed both in the building of 
basilicas and in churches built around a central 
core. Only in the fourteenth century, when the dis¬ 
solution of the canons of form in Nubian church 
building set in, did this form of room also begin to 

From the high Middle Ages or the beginning of 
the eleventh century in Nubia as in Egypt, the 
domed structure took on increasing importance. 
Hence from this period on there were some longi¬ 
tudinal churches with domes, such as were built in 
Egypt. The increased building of domes promoted 
to a much greater extent the idea of centrally 
planned churches. An extraordinary number of ex¬ 
amples have survived from the medieval architec¬ 
ture of Nubia in the form of four-pillared buildings 
with square or cruciform pillars. From these, small 
arches were thrown across on the four sides, which 

Example of a barrel-vaulted, pillared basilica. Courte¬ 
sy Peter Grossmann. 

in a way divided the whole area into nine smaller 
areas. While a high dome on squinches was usually 
erected over the center, the side areas were some¬ 
times roofed with small barrel vaults relating to the 
center, or with shallower sail vaults. Frequently 



Example of a four-pillar church. Courtesy Peter Gross - 

these were set at a different height in the several 
areas, the areas in the axes being given preferential 
treatment. In this way there came into being a form 
not unlike that of the Middle Byzantine cross-in¬ 
square churches, and there is therefore hardly any 
doubt that these buildings were influenced from 
there by way of Egypt. 

In another case, the domed church at Kulb is a 
specimen of the Middle Byzantine octagon-domed 
church, which has its closest relatives in the area of 
Aswan. It has, however, no lateral link of rooms, 
which is the case also in the Saint Saba church of 
Dayr al-Qusayr at Turah (near Cairo) and stands 
thus close to the representatives of this architectur¬ 
al form in the Greek examples. It is distinguished 

from these by a certain emphasis on the transverse 
axis, which does not occur in the Greek buildings. 
For the rest, the church at Kulb contains all the 
peculiar features of Nubian church architecture, 
such as find expression in particular in the eastern 
cross-passage and the tripartite western group of 

In this phase the building of basilicas gradually 
faded out. A characteristic feature was the gradual 
decline in the number of pillars. The buildings, 
which now show only two columns on each side, 
are in their ground plan scarcely to be distin¬ 
guished from the four-pillared buildings arranged 
around a central core. In fact, there are also some 
cases in which the area circumscribed by the pillars 
is roofed with a dome. Here the only thing that 
remains to indicate their origin from the basilica is 
the absence of any subdivision of the side aisles. In 
contrast to the centrally oriented type they are 
roofed with a barrel vault running right through. 

From the late Middle Ages or the beginning of 
the thirteenth century the buildings are further sim¬ 
plified. As in Egypt, there appears a hall church 
executed on the four-pillar system, in which the 
complicated changes involved in vaulting are re¬ 
placed by the uniform use of sail vaults carried to 
the same height. It thus forms a simplification of 
the four-pillar buildings of the high Middle Ages. 
Only the middle still remained emphasized by a 
high towering dome. At the same time the bays 
became closer to one another in size. This type is 
hardly any different from the late medieval hall 
church such as appears in Egypt in the Mamluk 
period. The only thing it does not share is the in¬ 
crease in the number of sanctuaries characteristic 
of Egypt. In the churches of Nubia, right to the end, 
there is only a single sanctuary. 

The last phase of Nubian church building is 
marked by a decline in the whole development. 
There was a reintroduction of barrel vaulting over 
all spatial areas, while the tripartite western group 
of rooms was renounced. In the same way the origi¬ 
nal tripartite sanctuary became a single wide cham¬ 
ber accessible only in the middle. This development 
clearly shows that Christianity had already entered 
into a phase of decline. People made do with small 
houses of prayer of an uncomplicated form. 


Adams, W. Y. "Architectural Evolution of the Nubi¬ 
an Church, 500-1400 A.D." Journal of American 

Research Center in Egypt 4 (1965):87-139. 



Clarke, $. Christian Antiquities in the Nile Valley. 
Oxford, 1912. 

Gardberg, C. J. Late Nubian Sites. The Scandinavian 
Joinl Expedition to Sudanese Nubia 7. Stock¬ 
holm, 1970. 

Gartkiewicz, P. M. "An Introduction to the History 
of Nubian Church Architecture." Nubia Christi¬ 
ana 1 (1982):43 — 105. 

Grossmann, P. Elephantine II, pp. 86ff. Mainz, 1979. 

_"Abu Mina. Neunter vorlaufiger Bericht 

Karnpagnen 1977, 1978, und 1979." Mitleilungen 
des Deutschen Archaeologischen Instituts, Abtei- 
lung Kairo 36 (1980):222-24, fig. 8. 

__ Mittelalterliche Langhauskuppelkirchen und 

verwandte Typen in Oheriigypten. Gliickstadt, 

__ "Typologische Probleme der nubischcn 

Vierstiitzenbautcn." Acts of the III Congress of 
Coptic Studies. Warsaw, 1984. 

Jakobielski, S. "Nubian Christian Architecture." 
Zeitschrift fur dgyplische Sprache und Altertwns- 
kunde 108 (1981 ):33-48. 

Mileham, G. S. Churches in Lower Nubia. Oxford, 

Monneret de Villard, U. La Nubia medioevale, Vols. 
1-4. Cairo, 1935-1957. 

Petf.r Grossmann 


people of nubia adhered to the Coptic Christian 
faith from the time of their conversion in the sixth 
century (see nubia, f.vangf.lization of) until nearly 
the end of the fifteenth century. At that time the 
Christian Nubian kingdoms were destroyed through 
a combination of internal weakness, nomad Arab 
migrations, and Mamluk intervention. Effective po¬ 
litical power passed to Arab tribal shaykhs, and at 
the same time contact between the Nubian Chris¬ 
tian communities and the Coptic patriarchate was 
broken. Gradually the people adopted the Islamic 
faith of their new rulers, and the numerous church¬ 
es of Nubia fell into ruin. There were reported to 
be surviving communities of Christians in Nubia as 
late as the eighteenth century, but there are none 
today. Nevertheless, traces of the earlier faith can 
still be observed in the folk religious practices of 
the Nubians. Among them are a form of baptism; an 
Easter ritual involving early morning ablution in 
the Nile, followed by marking the sign of the cross 
on house walls; and the frequent invocation of 
Mary and the angels by women in childbirth. In 
some areas the Latin term angeles is still in use. 
Christian survivals are reported also among Nubian 
tribal peoples in the western Sudan (see NUBIANS), 

though it is not certain that these people were ever 
officially convened. 


Kronenberg, A., and W. Kroncnberg. "Preliminary 
Report on Anthropological Field-Work 1961-62 
in Sudanese Nubia." Kush 11 (1963):304, 311. 

_"Preliminary Report on Anthropological 

Field-Work in Sudanese Nubia, 1962-63." Kush 
12 (1964):285-86. 

Vantini, G. Christianity in the Sudan, pp. 208-215. 
Bologna, 1981. 

William Y. Adams 

NUBIAN CHURCH ART. Decoration in the 
earliest Nubian churches seems to have been con¬ 
fined to the use of sculptured capitals, lintels, and 
cornices of stone and of wood. Very few of these 
have survived intact, for after the eighth centuiy 
such features were generally discarded. The speci¬ 
mens that have been preserved are fairly typical of 
early Christian church decoration. They are 
wrought into elaborate floral patterns of Hellenistic 
derivation, with only an occasional decorative cross 
or bird of peace to signify Christian influence. 

The sculptured capitals and lintels of the early 
Nubian churches were probably painted as well, 
but there is no suggestion of mural decoration as 
such. At the beginning of the eighth century, how¬ 
ever, a new and purely Christian artistic canon 
made its appearance in the form of brightly colored 
wall paintings similar to those found in early 
churches in Egypt. These soon became, and re¬ 
mained throughout the Middle Ages, the highest 
artistic expression of Christian Nubian civilization. 
After their appearance, carved decoration declined 
rapidly in popularity. 

The earliest significant discoveries of Nubian mu¬ 
ral art were made by F. L. Griffith at faras and 
'Abd al-Qadir. Subsequently, many more fragmen¬ 
tary remnants of paintings were discovered by U. 
monneret de villard in the course of his compre¬ 
hensive survey of Nubian churches in the 1930s. 
However, it was the finding of the spectacular mu¬ 
rals in the buried Faras cathedral (see FARAS mu¬ 
rals) that ultimately drew world attention to the 
high development of medieval Nubian religious art. 
Not long afterward, additional well-preserved mu¬ 
rals were found in the buried churches of 'ABDALiAH 
NIROI in Egyptian Nubia, and at Sonqi Tino in the 

The discoveries at Faras, 'Abdallah Nirqi, and 



Sonqi have made it possible to reconst met the 
painted designs in a great many other churches, of 
which only small fragments were actually pre¬ 
served. All of them corresponded closely in style 
and iconography, although the paintings in the 
smaller churches seldom matched the quality or 
the elaborateness of those at Faras. As a result, it is 
now possible to speak in general terms of a Nubian 
school of medieval church art. 

The Nubian church does not seem to have had a 
rigidly prescribed program of mural decoration. 
However, the same or similar figures occurred in 
the same location in a large number of churches. 
The lower apse walls were generally occupied by a 
central figure of the Madonna and Child flanked on 
either side by the apostles, while the half-dome that 
crowned the apse in earlier Nubian churches was 
occupied by the colossal head and shoulders of 
Christ Pantocrator. There was often a nativity scene 
in the north aisle, a standing figure of the archangel 
Michael at the end of the south aisle, and a head of 
Christ Hanked by the symbols of the four evangelists 
somewhere along the south wall. Cavalier saints, 
including the familiar figure of Saint George spear¬ 
ing the dragon, were another popular motif. 

At least four periods of stylistic development 
were recognized in the painting at Faras. They were 
designated by Kazimicrz MICHALOWsKI as the violet 
style (early eighth to mid-ninth century), the white 
style (mid-ninth to early tenth century), the red- 
yellow style (tenth century), and the multicolored 
style (eleventh and twelfth centuries). These desig¬ 
nations reflect changing color preferences, but 
there were also important changes in style and ico¬ 
nography. The two earlier styles were characterized 
by rather muted colors and a sparing use of decora¬ 
tive detail. The human figures were described by 
Weitzmann as having "straight outlines which tend 
to flatten the figures while at the same time their 
somewhat thickset proportions suggest the massive 
structure of their bodies, underlined by their large, 
almost clumsy feet and their heavy, square heads. 
Their faces are designed with thick and almost geo¬ 
metric lines and with enormously large eyes with a 
blank gaze" (1970, p. 327). The later periods are 
characterized by brilliant colors and lavishly ornate 
detail in the treatment of robes, wings, and other 
features. The facial features are considerably more 
humanized and animated than in the earlier styles. 

The same sequence of stylistic development was 
apparently characteristic of all the Nubian church¬ 
es, though the multicolored style seems to have 

been fully developed only at Faras. Elsewhere the 
red-yellow style continued in vogue until the end of 
the Christian period, late in the fifteenth century. 
Some of the very late Nubian churches, such as the 
one at 'Abd al-Qadir, exhibited a highly simplified 
and somewhat degenerate style that was not repre¬ 
sented at Faras; apparently it developed after the 
Faras Cathedral had already been abandoned. 

Coptic influence in the Nubian paintings is very 
evident. It is also noticeable that most of the in¬ 
scriptions accompanying the paintings are in the 
Coptic language, suggesting the possibility that the 
painters were Egyptian artisans brought in for the 
puipose of decorating the Nubian churches. Pre¬ 
sumably they worked from a copy book, since there 
is a close and detailed, though never exact, similari¬ 
ty among the paintings in different parts of the 
country. Even so, the mural art of Nubia is not 
purely an imitation of the contemporary Christian 
ail of Egypt; it also betrays influences from Pales¬ 
tine, Syria, and Byzantium. A purely indigenous and 
realistic touch is added by the portrayal of native 
rulers and bishops with dark features, in contrast 
with the white faces of the Holy Family, saints, and 
archangels. In church art, as in church architec¬ 
ture, it appears that the Nubians assimilated and 
combined influences from a variety of sources, as 
well as adding touches of their own. 

[Set* also: Nubian Christian Architecture; Nubian 
Archaeology, Medieval.] 


Adams, W. Y. Nubia, Corridor to Africa, pp. 482-84. 
Princeton, N.J., 1977. 

Donadoni, S. "Les Fouilles A I'eglise de Sonqi 
Tino." In Kunst und Geschichte Nubiens in christ- 
licher Zeit, ed. E. Dinkier. Recklinghausen, 1970. 
Griffith, F. L. "Oxford Excavations in Nubia." Uni¬ 
versity of Liverpool Annuls of Archaeology and An¬ 
thropology 13 (1926):66—82; 15 (1928):63-82. 
Michalowski, K. Faras, centre artistique de la Nubie 
chretienne. Leiden, 1966. 

-- Faras. Warsaw, 1974. 

-, and Georg Gerster. Faras, die Kathedrale 

aus deni Wiistensand . Zurich and Cologne, 1967. 
Van Moorsel, P.; J. Jacquet; and H. Schneider. The 
Central Church of Abdallah Nirqi, pp. 54-132. Lei¬ 
den. 1975. 

Weitzmann, K. "Some Remarks on the Sources of 
the Fresco Paintings of the Cathedral of Faras." 
In Kunst und Geschichte Nubiens in christlicher 
Zeit, ed. E. Dinkier. Recklinghausen, 1970. 

William Y. Adams 




three Nubian kingdoms of nobatia. makoukia. and 
•ALWA were converted to Christianity at various 
times in the sixth century. There seems 10 have 
been rival missionary activity of Monophysites and 
Mclchites in all three kingdoms, with differing re¬ 
sults. Nobatia and 'Aiwa were both convened by 
the Monophysites from the beginning, while 
Makouria may initially have favored the Mclchites. 
After the seventh century, however, the Monophy- 
site Coptic church was clearly ascendant through¬ 
out nubia, although the Melchites continued their 
efforts to win over the southern countries. 

An eighth-century Egyptian commentator report¬ 
ed that the Nubian church was headed by a metro¬ 
politan appointed by the patriarch of Alexandria, 
and that he had the responsibility of ordaining 
priests and bishops throughout the Nubian king¬ 
doms. However, this testimony docs not accord 
well with other textual or with archaeological evi¬ 
dence. In their funerary stelae, none of the Nubian 
bishops claims primacy over the whole region, and 
we can recognize no eccelesiastical title compara¬ 
ble with that of the Abyssinian abOn. The evidence 
tends, rather, to suggest that the Nubian church 
was treated as integral with that of Egypt, under the 
direct governance of the Coptic patriarch. The ap¬ 
pointment of bishops directly by the patriarch is 
attested in a number of documents. Notwithstand¬ 
ing this organizational unity, Greek rather than 
Coptic was always the preferred liturgical language 
in Nubia (see Nubian ianguages and literature), 


own distinctive traditions. 

A late medieval source, of obscure origin, lists 
thirteen episcopal sees in Nubia: seven in the king¬ 
dom of Makouria, and six in the kingdom of 'Aiwa. 
The existence of sees at tafa, Qurta, qa$r ibrIm, 
faras, SAI island, and dongola has been indepen¬ 
dently confirmed by textual or archaeological evi¬ 
dence. Of the six reported sees in 'Aiwa, only that 
at SOHA can now be located. 

Some information about the Nubian bishops has 
been gained from the study of mural representa¬ 
tions and funerary inscriptions found in the cathe¬ 
dral at Faras. The bishops are shown richly attired 
in an inner gown and an outer chasuble, with an 
ornamental sash of office hanging from the shoul¬ 
ders. They either are bareheaded or have a fine 
white cloth draped over the head and shoulders. 
None is shown wearing a pectoral cross or carrying 
a staff, although both these items have been found 

in the bishops’ tombs. In the Faras paintings the 
bishops are always shown holding the Bible in the 
left hand and making the sign of blessing with the 

There are no representations of lesser clergy in 
the Nubian churches. From their tombstones it ap¬ 
peal's that they bore the title presbyteros. There are 
also many references to deacons, and a lew to arch¬ 
deacons, "epideacons," and "hypodeacons." The 
monastic orders apparently consisted of monks and 

Linguistic evidence suggests that many of the 
bishops and monks in Nubia were Egyptians, al¬ 
though other bishops, as well as most of the lower 
clergy, were Nubians. The Egyptian prelates and 
monks used the Coptic language in funerary and 
mural inscriptions, and quite possibly also in the 
liturgy, while the indigenous clergy used Greek, lat¬ 
er increasingly supplemented by Old Nubian, ibn 
sai.Im ai.-aswAn! reported of the kingdom of 'Aiwa: 
"Their [sacred] books are in the Greek tongue, 
which they translate into their own language.” 

Bishop Timotheos of Ibrim and Faras was conse¬ 
crated at Cairo in 1372. He apparently died shortly 
after reaching his see in Nubia. His consecration 
documents, which were found buried beside him, 
provide the last definite evidence of a link between 
the Nubian church and the Coptic patriarch. Some 
Egyptian writers flatly assert that contact between 
the Nubian and Egyptian churches was broken at 
this time, and that the patriarch refused to send 
bishops into Nubia because of the disturbed state of 
the country. Bishops arc still mentioned in a num¬ 
ber of legal documents from the late medieval king¬ 
dom of dotawo, hut there is a suggestion that they 
were appointed by the Nubian king himself and not 
by the patriarch in Alexandria. There is not, in fact, 
a clear distinction between civil and ecclesiastical 
offices in the late Dotawo documents. The last ol 
these to mention a bishop bears the date 1484. 


Adams, W. Y. Nubia, Corridor to Africa, pp. 471-73. 
Princeton, N. J., 1977. 

Jakobielski, S. bar us III, a History of the Bishopric of 
Pakhoras. Warsaw, 1972. 

Monneret de Villard, U. Storia della Nubia cristiana, 
pp. 158-68. Orientalia Christiana Analecta 118. 
Rome, 1938. 

Plumley, J. M. The Scrolls of Bishop Timotheos. 
Egypt Exploration Society, Texts from Excava¬ 
tions, First Memoir. London, 1975. 


Vantini, G. Christianity in the Sudan, pp. 51-59. 
Bologna, 1981. 

William Y. Adams 


Literary records of medieval Nubia are few and 
fragmentary, but archaeology has yielded a large 
number of short written texts, mostly of a religious 
nature, that were inscribed on house and church 
walls, on pottery vessels and fragments, and on 
tombstones. There are medieval texts in at least 
four different languages: Coptic, Greek, Old Nubian, 
and Arabic. 

An enormously rich source of inscriptions was 
the buried cathedral at LARAS. On its walls, along 
with about 200 mural paintings, there were found 
over 400 inscriptions of varying length. These were 
tabulated and classified by S. Jakobielski as follows: 
sixty-one descriptive legends to mural paintings; 
thirteen inscriptions commemorating individuals 
who commissioned paintings; forty portions of 
prayers; six lists of names of clergy; eighty-one sig¬ 
natures of persons visiting the cathedral, sometimes 
preceded by a short invocation; sixty-four single 
names, mostly of saints; two portions of lists of 
movable feasts; nine single dates; six school exercis¬ 
es; thirty monograms; forty-four single letters; and 
ninety-two fragments of undeciphered graffiti. Some 
of these were painted on the walls and were part of 
the official program of Nubian church art; others 
were the incised graffiti of visitors, made with or 
without permission. Similar inscriptions have been 
found on the walls of a great many other Nubian 

Another important source of inscriptional infor¬ 
mation, also at Faras, was an ancient Egyptian rock 
tomb that in the eighth century had served as the 
domicile of a solitary anchorite named Theophilus. 
He had adorned the walls of his makeshift dwelling 
with a rich assortment of texts in Coptic, painted in 
black on a white background. Among them were 
the Nicene Creed, texts relating edifying anecdotes 
and sayings of the early saints, amuletic texts com¬ 
prising the beginnings of the four Gospels inscribed 
within contiguous circles, the apocryphal letter of 
Christ to King Abgarus of Edessa, the list of the 
forty martyrs of Sebaste, the names of the seven 
sleepers of Ephesus, and the familiar Latin palin¬ 
drome sutor arepo tenet opera rotas (meaning un¬ 
clear), here rendered with several misspelling. In 
the mids! of the other inscriptions was a short 

prayer for "Theophilus, this least of monks, who 
wrote these writings on my dwelling," with a date 
equivalent to A.D. 739. 

Owners' names or monograms and cabalistic pro¬ 
tective formulas were often incised on pottery ves¬ 
sels, and sometimes also on house and church 
walls. An especially popular formula involved the 
analysis of names into their constituent numerical 
equivalents (every letter in the Coptic, Greek, and 
Old Nubian alphabets stood for a number as well as 
for a sound), the summation of the individual nu¬ 
merical values for the letters in any given name, 
and the rendering of the final sum in letter form. In 
accordance with this formula the very popular 
name MIXAHA was analyzed as M = 40 + I = 10 + 
X = 600 + A=1 + H = 8 + A = 30, making a 
total of 689, which was then written as XI10. This 
combination of three letters occurs over and over 
again on potteiy vessels and on house walls. 

Ostraca (writings on potsherds) were another 
common form of inscription in medieval Nubia. 
Many of them were memoranda and receipts; 
others were school exercises. Still others were reli¬ 
gious or magical formulas. 

Hijabs (amulets) comprised of religious or magi¬ 
cal texts on paper, tightly folded and then sewn into 
ornamental leather covers, were very common in 
medieval Nubia. They usually had tie thongs so that 
they could be worn for protection by individuals, or 
attached to valued objects or to the harnesses of 
animals. A great many of these have been found in 
the excavations at OA$R iBRiM, but the texts have not 
yet been systematically analyzed. 

Nubian tombstone inscriptions were either in 
Coptic or in Greek. In the latter case they some¬ 
times had a line or two of Old Nubian at the begin¬ 
ning or the end, or both. The texts were usually a 
dozen or more lines in length, and involved any of 
several popular literary formulas. The most com¬ 
mon was the well-known Byzantine prayer formula 
known as the cuchologion mega: 

Jesus Christ, Light of Life. Through the provi¬ 
dence of God, the ruler of all, He that said unto 
Adam, the first man, "Earth thou art, to earth 
again shalt thou return"; even thus did fsuch-and- 
such person] on [such-and-such date]. And may 
God the good and benevolent give rest unto his 
soul in the heavenly kingdom, and place him in 
the bosom of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, in 
the paradise of joy, whence weeping and grief 
and sighing do fly away; and may he cause the 
good Archangel Michael to watch over his bones; 
and cause him to hear the blessed voice which 


shall say. “Come, ye blessed of my father, and 
inherit the kingdom which has been prepared for 
you since the foundation of the world." For thou 
an the rest and the resurrection of thy servant 
[so-and-so], and unto thee we send up praise, 
unto the Father and to the Son and to the Holy 
Ghost, now and forever and unto the ages of ages. 

[Sec also: Nubian Languages and Literature.] 


Adams, W. Y. Nubia, Corridor to Africa, pp. 485-88. 
Princeton, N.J., 1977. 

Griffith, F. L. "Oxford Excavations in Nubia." Uni¬ 
versity of l.iverpool Annals of Archaeology and An¬ 
thropology 14 (1927):81 -91. 

_“Christian Documents from Nubia.” Pro¬ 
ceedings of the British Academy 14 (1928): 117-46. 
Jakobielski, S. "Some New Data to the History of 
Christian Nubia as Found in Faras’ Inscriptions.” 
Klio 51 (1969):499-503. 

_"Some Remarks on Faras Inscriptions.” In 

Kunst und Geschichle Nubians in christlicher Zeit, 
ed. E. Dinkier. Recklinghausen. 1970. 

Junker, H. "Die christlichen Grabsteine Nubiens.” 
Zeitschrift fiir Agyptische Sprache und AI tertian- 
skunde 60 (1925):! 11-48. 

Monnerel de Villard, U. Le iscrizioni del cintilero di 
Sakinya (Nubia), Cairo, 1933. 

Shinnie, P. L., and H. N. Chittick. “Ghazali—a Mon¬ 
astery in the Northern Sudan.” Sudan Antiquities 
Service, Occasional Papers 5 (1961 ):95— Ill. 

William Y. Adams 

TURE. According to the system of classification 
devised by Joseph Greenberg, the languages spoken 
by the Nubians belong to the Eastern Sudanic fami¬ 
ly of the Nilo-Saharan stock. They are fairly closely 
related to several of the tribal languages of south¬ 
ern Sudan and Uganda, and are more distantly re¬ 
lated to many other indigenous languages of east- 
central Africa. 

The Nubian languages are believed to have 
evolved originally in what today are the provinces 
of Kordofan and Darfur, in western Sudan. Subse¬ 
quently most of the Nubian speakers migrated east¬ 
ward to the Nile Valley, displacing or absorbing an 
older population of Meroitic speakers. In the Mid¬ 
dle Ages the Nubian languages were dominant in 
the Nile Valley at least from Aswan to the conflu¬ 
ence of the Blue and White Niles. They were spo¬ 
ken and written in the medieval kingdoms of NOBA- 
TIA, MAKOURIA, and 'ALWA. Since that time the 

Nubians in their turn have been partly absorbed 
into the Arabic-speaking population of central Su¬ 
dan, and Nubian languages survive in the Nile Val¬ 
ley only in the far northern Sudan and in southern 
Egypt. There are also surviving pockets of Nubian 
speakers at several places in Kordofan and Darfur, 
although these languages are rapidly dying out. 

Today there are three Nubian-speaking groups in 
the Nile Valley: the Kanuz (sing., Kenzi) in the 
north, between Aswan and Maharraqah; the Mahds 
or Fadija in the middle, between Maharraqah and 
Karma; and the Danaglah (sing., Dongolawi), south 
of Karma. Kenzi and Dongolawi are actually dia¬ 
lects of the same language, while Mahasi is distinct 
and not intelligible to speakers of the other two. 
The Kanuz apparently migrated into their present, 
nonhem habitat in the late Middle Ages, but the 
linguistic frontier between the Mahas and Danaglah 
was noted by the tenth-century Egyptian traveler IBN 
salIm AL-ASWAnI. In addition to the languages that 
still survive, one or more additional Nubian lan¬ 
guages were probably spoken in the kingdom of 
'Aiwa, around the confluence of the Blue and White 
Niles, where only Arabic is spoken today. There are 
also at least six surviving Nubian languages in Kor¬ 
dofan and Darfur. They are quite markedly distinct 
from the languages spoken along the Nile, and also 
from one another, suggesting a long period of sepa¬ 
rate existence. 

Only one of the medieval Nubian languages was 
written down with any degree of regularity. It was 
the ancestor of modern Mahasi, although the 
medieval variant is usually designated as Old Nubi¬ 
an. It was written in a modified Coptic alphabet, 
with two added letters to represent sounds not 
found in Coptic. F. L. Griffith believed that these 
characters were carried over from the old Meroitic 
alphabet, although no text in Old Nubian can be 
dated earlier than 795. 

Surviving texts in Old Nubian are mostly of a 
religious nature. They include gospels, prayer 
books, lives of saints, descriptive legends for wall 
paintings, and a great many mortuary texts. In addi¬ 
tion, much of the administrative and commercial 
correspondence found at QASR IBRIM is in Old Nubi¬ 
an. The same form of written language appears to 
have been used both in the territory of Nobat ia, 
where Mahasi was also the spoken language, and in 
Makouria, where the spoken language was Dongo¬ 
lawi. Griffith believed that the few Old Nubian texts 
recovered fiom the more southerly kingdom of 
'Aiwa might represent a different language or dia¬ 



Old Nubian was not the only written language in 
medieval Nubia; both Greek and Coptic were also 
in regular use. For obvious reasons Coptic was the 
preferred language of the numerous Egyptians who 
served in the Nubian priesthood and monastic or¬ 
ders. However, the liturgical language that was 
originally introduced when Nubia was converted to 
Christianity was Greek, and even after they accept¬ 
ed the discipline of Alexandria, the Nubians were 
reluctant to abandon it. In later centuries, when 
knowledge of Greek became increasingly imperfect, 
the tendency among the native clergy was to substi¬ 
tute Old Nubian rather than Coptic. Thus, accord¬ 
ing to Jakobielski’s analysis, Coptic was the lan¬ 
guage only of the Egyptian clergy resident within 
Nubia, while Greek, increasingly augmented by Old 
Nubian, was used by the indigenous population. 
The surviving literature in Coptic and in Greek is 
almost exclusively religious, while Old Nubian was 
also used for administration and commerce. In the 
later Middle Ages there was much commercial cor¬ 
respondence in Arabic, since much of Nubia's trade 
was carried on by Egyptians. 

It is not certain when the use of Coptic and 
Greek died out in Nubia; presumably it was when 
contact with Alexandria was broken in the four¬ 
teenth century. The latest known document in Cop¬ 
tic is the consecration scroll of Bishop Timotheos 
of Ibrim and Faras, written in 1372. It was buried 
beside him in his tomb at Qasr Ibrim. Old Nubian 
persisted for a century longer as the written lan¬ 
guage of the Christian splinter kingdom of dotawo, 
which came to an end late in the fifteenth century. 
The last known document in Old Nubian bears the 
date 1484. Since their conversion to Islam, the Nu¬ 
bians have used Arabic exclusively as an instrument 
of written communication, though they continue to 
speak their indigenous languages as well as Arabic. 

[See also: Nubian Church Organization; Nubian 
Inscriptions, Medieval.] 


Adams, W. Y. Nubia, Corridor to Africa, pp. 47-48, 
484-88. Princeton. N.J., 1977. 

Greenberg, J. H. The Languages of Africa, 2nd ed., 
pp. 85-129. Bloomington, Ind., 1966. 

Griffith, F. L. The Nubian Texts of the Christian Peru 
od. Abhandlungen der Koniglichen Preussischen 
Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philologisch-His- 
torischc Klasse 8. Berlin, 1913. 

-“Christian Documents from Nubia." Pro- 

ceedings of the British Academy 14 (1928):! 17-46. 

Haycock, B. G. "Medieval Nubia in the Perspective 
of Sudanese History." Sudan Notes and Records 
53 (1972): 18—35. 

Jakobielski, S. “Some Remarks on Faras Inscrip¬ 
tions." In Kunst und Geschichte Nubiens in christ - 
licher Zeit, ed. E. Dinkier. Recklinghausen, 1970. 

Metzger, B. M. “The Christianization of Nubia and 
the Old Nubian Version of the New Testament." 
Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der alt- 
christlichen Literatur 92 (1966):531-42. 

Shinnie, P. L. “Multilingualism in Medieval Nubia." 
In Studies in Ancient Languages of the Sudan, ed. 
A. M. Abdalla. University of Khartoum, Institute 
of African and Asian Studies, Sudanese Studies 
Library 3. Khartoum, 1974. 

William Y. Adams 

NUBIAN LITURGY. Even at present Nubian lit¬ 
urgy remains obscure. It is evident, however, that 
Byzantine-Greek, Coptic, and native Nubian tradi¬ 
tions all shared in the creation of a liturgical life of 
richness and intensity among the Nubian Christians 
of the Nile Valley between 500 and 1450. 

Evidence comes from two main sources. The first 
is the magnificent frescoes from the cathederal at 
faras. excavated in the 1960s; the second is the 
manuscripts that may have formed part of a cathe¬ 
dral library from the fortress town of OA$R IBRiM. In 
addition, small liturgical fragments in the same 
style of handwriting as those from Qasr Ibrim have 
been found in a church at Sunnarti; these appear to 
be from an amphora. 

The frescoes from Faras indicate an intense reli¬ 
gious life centered on the cult of the Christ and the 
Virgin, the Archangel Michael, and martyrs, espe¬ 
cially the military martyrs Mercurius and Demetri¬ 
us. Apart from the frescoes themselves, graffiti cut 
or painted on the plaster of the wall of the nave and 
aisle of the cathedral bear witness to similar trends 
in popular piety. Typical examples are “Lord Jesus 
[and] Mary, guard, bless, protect, strengthen (and) 
help thy servant Marianne, daughter of Mariata. So 
be it. Amen," and “Lord Jesus Christ [and] Michael, 
guard, bless, protect, strengthen [and] help thy 
servant..." (Michalowski, 1974, p. 299). An in¬ 
scription by a deacon reads, “Lord Jesus Christ 
[and] Mary, guard, bless, protect, strengthen [and] 
help thy servant Joseph, the deacon, son of Mark 
[of the church] of Mary [in] Pachora. So be it. 
Amen" (ibid., pp. 298-99). 

Qasr Ibrim has no surviving frescoes, but docu¬ 
ments from the charred and torn remains of what is 



assumed to have been the cathedral library scat¬ 
tered on the floor of the great church confirm the 
evidence from Faras. The liturgy was sung appar¬ 
ently in Greek or Nubian, with some texts of the 
church fathers, such as John Chrysostom's "Homily 
on the Four Living Beasts," using Coptic. From 
insertions in some of the prayers and directions to 
the celebrant, it seems clear that Greek was as fa¬ 
miliar as Nubian to the worshipers, at least until 
about 1100. Fragments of a eucharistic sequence 
that included an offertory prayer from a service 
book, the opening passage of an anaphora of Atha¬ 
nasius and the transition from the Mass of the Cate¬ 
chumens to the Mass of the Faithful, and a large 
fragment of the prayer of dismissal indicate that the 
Nubian liturgy was based on the liturgy of Saint 
Mark, although it was shorter and simpler. This 
suggests that the Nubians observed older forms of 
the liturgy, which underwent elaborations as time 
went on in other areas where it was used. 

The fervent character of the cult of military mar¬ 
tyrs also can be proved from the fragments of the 
Acta S. Mercurii and Acta S. Georgii found in the 
cathedral of Qasr Ibrim. These confirm the evi¬ 
dence from the frescoes at ’ABDALLAH niroI as well 
as at Faras. 

The liturgy of the Nubian churches would appear 
to have been Monophysite, using a slightly modified 
form of the liturgy of Saint Mark throughout the 
lifetime of the church there. In the eleventh centu¬ 
ry, however, the use of the Euchologion Mega indi¬ 
cates Melchite influence in the church of Faras. 
This development, associated perhaps with the epis¬ 
copate of Bishop Marianos (1005-1037), whose 
tomb was at Qasr lb rim and not Faras, needs fur¬ 
ther research. Otherwise, the Nubian church re¬ 
mained true to its Monophysite origins throughout 
its history. 


Frend, W. H. C. "A Fragment of the Acta S. Georgii 
from Nubia." Analecta Bollandiana 100 (1982):79— 
86 . 

_"A Eucharistic Sequence from Qasr Ibrim.” 

Jahrbuch fur Antike und Christentum 30 (1987): 

Frend, W. H. C., and I. A. Muirhcad. "Greek Manu¬ 
script from the Cathedral of Qasr Ibrim. Le Mus • 
eon 89 (1976):43-49. 

Jakobielski, S. A History of the Bishopric of Pachoras 
on the Basis of Coptic Inscriptions, Vol. 3, Faras. 
Warsaw, 1972. 

Michalowski, K. Faras: Wall Paintings in the Collec¬ 
tion of the National Museum in Warsaw . Warsaw, 

Muller, C. D. G. "Deutsche Textfunde in Nubien.” 
In Kunst und Geschichte Nuhiens in christlicher 
Zeit, ed. E. Dinkier, pp. 245-59. Recklinghausen, 

Moorsel, P. van; J. Jacquet; and H. Schneider. The 
Central Church of Abdallah Nirqi. Leiden, 1975. 

W. H. C. Frend 

NUBIAN MONASTERIES. abO $Alih the Arme¬ 
nian. in his Churches and Monasteries of F.gypt and 
Some Neighbouring Countries, speaks of numerous 
and imposing monasteries in Nubia. Archaeology 
suggests, however, that the monastic movement 
was never as important in Nubia as it was in Egypt. 
Fewer than a dozen Nubian monasteries have been 
identified archaeologically, and none of these can 
compare in size or splendor with the great estab¬ 
lishments at Suhaj and in the Wadi al-Natrun. The 
largest of the Nubian monasteries might perhaps 
have accommodated fifty or sixty monks, but many 
were considerably smaller. 

Most of the known Nubian monasteries seem to 
date from the period between 900 and 1200. Only 
two of them, at Qasr al-Wizz near FARAS and in the 
Wadi Ghazali, have been investigated with any thor¬ 
oughness. In both places a central church was en¬ 
closed within a compact cluster of adjoining build¬ 
ings, and the whole was surrounded by a girdle 
wall. At Qasr al-Wizz it is possible specifically to 
recognize a cluster of monks’ cells, a central kitch¬ 
en and refectory, and workshops. Some of the earli¬ 
er Nubian monasteries, like the one at Wadi 
Ghazali, stood slightly removed from settled areas, 
but none was truly isolated (as were many Egyptian 

Nubian monasticism seems to have declined rap¬ 
idly after the eleventh century, probably as a result 
of unsettled political conditions. Detached settle¬ 
ments like those of Qasr al-Wizz and Wadi Ghazali 
were abandoned, and colonies of monks apparently 
attached themselves for protection to already exist¬ 
ing communities. In the late Middle Ages there was 
one such colony at menarti, where the monks 
shared the village church with the lay inhabitants of 
the community. Similar accommodations may have 
taken place at some of the island sites in the batn 
AL-HAJAR region. All Nubian monastic communities 
seem to have come to an end before the fifteenth 


century, though the Christian faith itself persisted 
for another hundred years. 

There are neither surviving records nor firsthand 
descriptions to suggest how the Nubian monasteries 
were organized and governed. The abundance of 
Coptic tombstones at Wadi Ghazali, Faras, and Qasr 
al-Wizz suggests that many, perhaps even most, of 
the monks at these places were Egyptians rather 
than Nubians. However, the style of church archi¬ 
tecture exhibited at all the Nubian monasteries is 
distinctly indigenous and not Egyptian. In addition 
to cenobitic monks, there were isolated hermits liv¬ 
ing in caves and ancient tombs in various part of 
Nubia. One such anchorite, a certain Theophilus, 
decorated the walls of his tomb home with a re¬ 
markable series of Coptic liturgical and magical in¬ 
scriptions, dated to 739 (see NUBIAN inscriptions. 

[See also: Nubian Archaeology. Medieval; Nubian 
Christian Architecture; Nubian Church Organiza¬ 
tion; Nubian Languages and Literature.] 


Adams, W. Y. Nubia, Corridor to Africa, pp. 478-87. 
Princeton, N. J., 1977. 

Griffith, F. L. “Oxford Excavations in Nubia." Uni¬ 
versity of Liverpool Annals of Archaeology and An¬ 
thropology 14 (1927):8i-91. 

Michalowski, K. Faras, fouillcs polonaises 1961 ~ 
1962, pp. 114-17. Warsaw, 1965. 

Monneret de Villard. U. La Nubia tnedioevale. Vol. 
1, pp. 132-43. Cairo, 1935. Vol. 3. pp. 61-62. 
Cairo, 1957. 

Scanlon, G. T. "Excavations of Kasr el-Wizz: A Pre¬ 
liminary Report, I." Journal of Egyptian Archaeol¬ 
ogy 56 (1970):29-57. 

__ "Excavations at Kasr el-Wizz: A Preliminary 

Report, II." Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 58 

Shinnie, P. L., and H. N. Chittick. "Ghazali—a Mon¬ 
astery in the Northern Sudan." Sudan Antiquities 
Service, Occasional Papers, no. 5. Khartoum, 

William Y. Adams 

NUBIANS. The term "Nubians" has sometimes 
been used to designate all of the inhabitants of the 
region called nuuia. Even more loosely, it some¬ 
times designates all of the dark-skinned neighboring 
peoples who dwell to the south of Egypt. To be 
technically accurate, however, the name should be 
applied only to speakers of the Nubian family of 
languages. Today they arc found principally in the 

Nile Valley between Aswan in Egypt and Dcbba in 
Sudan, but they once occupied a much wider terri¬ 

The Nubian family of languages is believed to 
have originated in western Sudan, in the provinces 
today designated as Kordofan and Darfur. From this 
ancestral homeland, Nubian speakers migrated 
eastward into the Nile Valley, although a few rem¬ 
nant groups are still found in western Sudan. Nubi¬ 
an groups such as the noba and Makkourai arc 
mentioned in classical texts as occupying the west 
bank of the Nile, but the main part of the river 
valley at that time was still in the power of the 
empire of KUSH. The official language of the empire, 
called Meroitic, is not believed to have been related 
to Nubian. However, alter the empire's collapse the 
Nubians continued to move both eastward and 
northward, eventually occupying all of the old terri¬ 
tories of Kush and absorbing the previously resi¬ 
dent population. 

In the Middle Ages, Nubians were the main, and 
perhaps the only, occupants of the Nile Valley be¬ 
tween Aswan and the confluence of the Blue and 
White Niles. However, after the fourteenth century, 
groups of Arab nomads overran the more southerly 
Nubian-speaking territories, and political power 
passed to the newcomers. Under their influence the 
Nubian languages were gradually displaced by Ara¬ 
bic. Today they survive only in the northern part of 
what was once Nubian territory, between Aswan 
and Debba, as well as in a few surviving pockets in 
Kordofan and Darfur. The Arabic-speaking groups 
in the Nile Valley between Debba and Khartoum 
are descendants of former Nubian tribes, but they 
have lost their ancestral speech and no longer ac¬ 
knowledge a Nubian origin. 

When the Nubians first came to the Nile Valley, 
they adopted the worship of the ancient Egyptian 
deities, particularly of Isis. In the sixth century they 
were converted to Christianity and became mem¬ 
bers of the Egyptian Coptic church. Christianity 
eventually gave way to Islam after the Arab migra¬ 
tions and the breakup of the medieval Nubian king¬ 
doms in the fourteenth century. Although united in 
their faith, the Nubian speakers were never unified 
either politically or linguistically. In the Nile Valley 
they were divided into two principal kingdoms, 
makouria and 'alvvA, and they spoke at least two 
separate but related languages. For these reasons 
the Nubian peoples never had a strong sense of 
common identity and did not designate themselves 
by a common term, even though their Arab neigh¬ 
bors designated them all as Nubians. The disastrous 



inundations and population removals occasioned by 
the Aswan dams have only belatedly aroused in the 
Nubian-speaking peoples of Egypt and Sudan a 
sense of ethnic nationalism. 

There has been virtually no archaeology in west¬ 
ern Sudan, and nothing is known of the earliest 
culture of the Nubians. It is presumed that they 
were mostly pastoral nomads. After arriving in the 
Nile Valley, they soon adopted the culture and the 
arts, as well as the religion, of the already settled 
population, remaining distinct only in language. As 
a result, the general lifestyle of Nubians in medieval 
and modern times has differed little from that of 
Egyptian fellahin. The Nubians were always recog¬ 
nized by their neighbors as being Egyptianized and 
therefore civilized, in contrast with most of the 
other dark-skinned peoples of Africa. 

Because of the scanty agrarian resources of Nu¬ 
bia, many Nubians have always sought the wider 
opportunities oUcrcd in Egypt. In many ages they 
served as mercenaries in the Egyptian armies, 
where they were especially famed for their bow* 
manship. In the earliest times many of the Nubians 
in Egypt were slaves, but in the Middle Ages they 
became instead primarily slave dealers, obtaining 
their supplies from the more primitive tribal peo¬ 
ples farther to the south. In the seventeenth century 
Nubians were said to dominate the guilds of slave 
dealers, watchmen, and construction workers in 
Cairo, and they have also been employed in large 
numbers as cart and carriage drivers and as domes¬ 
tic servants. The process of labor migration, already 
well developed, was vastly accelerated when suc¬ 
cessively larger portions of Nubia were inundated 
by the Aswan dams built between 1898 and 1968. 
Whole villages of Nubians were relocated to new 
settings both in Egypt and in Sudan. In Egypt the 
largest area of Nubian resettlement, designated 
New Nubia, is around Kom Ombo in Upper Egypt. 
In Sudan the Nubians were mainly resettled in an 
area called New Haifa, along the 'Atbara River east 
of Khartoum. However, many individuals and fami¬ 
lies in both countries preferred to migrate to urban 
centers such as Cairo, Alexandria, Khartoum, and 
'Atbara rather than cultivate agricultural allotments 
in the resettled Nubian colonies. A few groups have 
reestablished themselves within their old territory, 
along the shores of the newly filled I.ake Nasser. 

Those Nubians who remain within the ancestral 
homeland continue to lead a life that has changed 
little since the Middle Ages, and that is also little 
different from that of Upper Egyptian fellahin. How¬ 
ever, those Nubians who have resettled in the 

towns and cities are much more likely to follow 
trades. In Egypt they are heavily concentrated in 
service occupations and in local commerce. In Su¬ 
dan, where they have always been the most educat¬ 
ed group, they play a large role in the learned 
professions and in the government bureaucracy. 

Throughout the Middle Ages the Nubians were 
devout Christians, and their support was often help¬ 
ful to their Coptic brethren in Egypt. Contact with 
Alexandria was broken after the fourteenth century, 
and the majority of Nubians gradually converted to 
Islam. As late as the eighteenth century, however, 
there were still reported to be some isolated pock¬ 
ets of professing Christians among the Nubians. To¬ 
day there are no Christian Nubians, but traces of 
their earlier faith can be observed in many of the 
folk rituals that survive in rural areas of Sudan (see 
Nubia. Christian survivals in). The publicity gener¬ 
ated by the Campaign to Save the Monuments of 
Nubia, and more particularly by the discovery of 
the great iaras murals, has given the current gene¬ 
ration of Nubian youth a new appreciation for their 
medieval culture and faith. 

[See also: Nubian Archaeology, Medieval; Nubian 
Languages and Literature.] 


Adams, W. Y. Nubia, Corridor to Africa, Princeton, 
N.J., 1977. 

Dafalla, H. Nubian Exodus. London, 1975. 

Fernea, R. A., and Georg Gerster. Nubians in Egypt: 

Peaceful People. Austin, Tex., 1973. 

Herzog, R. Die Nubier. Deutsche Akademie der Wis- 
senschaflen zu Berlin, Vblkerkundliche For- 
schungen 2. Berlin, 1957. 

Vantini, G. Christianity in the Sudan , pp. 21-215. 
Bologna, 1981. 

William Y. Adams 

NUBIAN TEXTILES. The famous Coptic tex¬ 
tiles of Egypt, with their elaborate woven patterns 
taken from Christian and classical themes, were not 
made in Nubia. In the earliest part of the medieval 
period, when Egypt was still weaving with flax and 
wool, the Nubians were using cotton almost exclu¬ 
sively. Cotton made its appearance in Nubia some¬ 
time in the first century of the Christian era, and 
most probably came from Meroci, the Kushite capi¬ 
tal farther south in the Sudan. 

The Meroites were expert weavers who continued 
the traditions of pharaonic Egypt in the new fiber of 
cotton. In addition to the plain white cloth used for 


most clothing, they produced very fine complex 
patterns in tapestry weave with geometric designs 
and motifs from pharaonic iconography. Long and 
shaggy, and short and furlike pile weaves also were 
made. Embroidery and applique were used to deco¬ 
rate garments. Shades of blue, and very occasional¬ 
ly red, were the only colors used in addition to the 
natural color of the undyed cotton. 

The clothing style of the Kushites was derived 
from that of the ancient Egyptians. Kilts with long, 
pendant aprons in front were worn by the men; 
women wore long or short skirts, and are shown on 
temple reliefs wearing long, close-fitting dresses, 
though none of these has been found by archaeolo¬ 
gists. In addition to tapestry weave, pile weaves, 
and applied decoration, elaborate borders of 
wrapped openwork and fringe were made for the 
lower edges of skirts and other gar ments. These 
lattice borders are strictly Nubian and have not 
been found in Egypt. 

In the fifth and sixth centuries the use of cotton 
decreased markedly, and wool took its place. There 
were many reasons for the change, but one impor¬ 
tant factor must have been the collapse of Mero£, 
which interrupted well-established trade networks. 
Also, the coming of Christianity brought many 
changes, including standards of personal dress. The 
new styles seem generally to have covered more of 
the body than did pharaonic clothing. The tunic, 
popular in Coptic and medieval Egypt, was worn by 
the elite Nubians, but most of the people wore a 
rectangular length of cloth draped or fastened 
around the body. Much of the material had brightly 
colored stripes in red, green, yellow, blue, or pur¬ 
ple, as well as the natural color of the white wool 
and many shades of brown and tan. 

The use of linen and cotton gradually increased, 
so that by 1000, 40 percent of the Nubians’ textiles 
were cotton, 20 percent were linen, and approxi¬ 
mately 35 percent were wool—only half as much 
wool as had been used 200 years earlier. Cotton 
fabrics were often embroidered with geometric de¬ 
signs and Christian symbols in brightly colored 
wool yarn. Silk was rare, but was imported by the 
wealthy. Goat hair was made into bags, rugs, tents, 
cords, and straps. The weaving techniques for the 
latter were often complex, producing different pat¬ 
terns on the two sides in several different colors. 

By the late Middle Ages, Nubian textiles were 
numerous and varied. The jallabiyyah seems to 
have been the basic garment. It was dark blue or 
white, made of linen or cotton. In style, it was little 
different from the modern jallabiyyah, which is an 

ankle-length, shirtlike garment with long, wide 
sleeves and a front neck opening that closes with 
string ties. The neck opening was often decorated 
with small circles or flowers worked in silk embroi¬ 
dery. Checks and stripes in blue and white were 
also used. 

Wall paintings found in Nubian churches provide 
detailed pictures of ecclesiastical and royal dress. 
The overall impression is one of great richness— 
voluminous garments in several layers, elegant 
braids decorating hems and cuffs, a profusion of 
pearls sewn in rows of rosettes on sumptuous fab¬ 
rics. Although there is no way of identifying the 
material from which these luxury fabrics were 
made, it is reasonable to assume that some, at least, 
were of silk. Among the patterned fabrics, stripes 
are most commonly seen, but small and larger re¬ 
peating patterns are also present. There are many 
ways in which these patterns could have been pro¬ 
duced: by printing or painting, by applied decora¬ 
tion such as embroidery or appliqu£, or by the 
weaving process itself. All of these techniques have 
been found archaeologically from the medieval per¬ 
iod, and it is clear that garments similar to those 
represented on the wall paintings did, in fact, exist. 
Much of this luxury fabric was imported from the 
great textile centers of the Middle East and serves 
as an eloquent indication of the wealth of medieval 
Christian Nubia. 


Adams, W. Y. Qasr Ibrim: The Late Medieval Period. 
Egypt Exploration Society Excavation Memoirs. 
In preparation. 

Crowfoot, E. G. "The Clothing of a Fourteenth-Cen¬ 
tury Nubian Bishop." In Studies in Textile History, 
ed. V. Gervers. Toronto, 1977. 

Eastwood, G. "Textiles." In Quseir al-Qadim I9H0, 
ed. D. S. Whitcomb and J. H. Johnson, pp. 285- 
326. American Research Center in Egypt Reports. 
Malibu, Calif., 1982. 

Michalowski, K. Faros. Warsaw, 1974. 

Plum ley, J. M.; W. Y. Adams; and E. G. Crowfoot. 
“Qasr Ibrim 1976.” Journal of Egyptian Archaeol¬ 
ogy 63 (1977):45-47. 

Nettie K. Adams 


Copts adopted, at an early date, the Greek alphabet, 
they also abandoned the demotic numerals for the 
Greek system based on the principle of attaching a 
numerical value to letters of the alphabet. Thus in 



T.r.fL 4 ?X«® 


• ^ + » • ' 

AH^tO£&J>MDL%x* \oK 


u»Tre u>fc&* MMCML y*M 2 asy 

XXM* ! 












Comparative table showing Coptic cardinal numbers and other standard systems of cardinal numbers. 
Subdivided from left to right, the three main columns show Coptic printed numbers, Coptic cursive numbers, 
Roman numerals, "Arabic” numerals as they appear in Arabic, and "Arabic” numerals as adapted by Europeans. 
Photo of a manuscript dated 1937, found among the papers of Aziz S. Atiya. 

Coptic, numbers could be represented by the ordi¬ 
nary Greek alphabet together with additional letters 
which the Greeks had already borrowed from the 
archaic Phoenician alphabet and inserted in their 
own namely, the digamma (from Semitic waw) for 
6, the koppa (from Semitic qdf) for 90, and the san 
(from Semitic sade) for 900. These twenty-seven 
letters represented the three series of nine numer¬ 
als, the units, the tens, and the hundreds, and ena¬ 
bled the scribe to write the numbers from 1 to 999. 
The Greek supralinear diacritical mark was ren¬ 
dered in the regular Coptic script by a horizontal 
supralinear stroke. 

The same letters marked with two parallel supra¬ 
linear strokes were used as numerals for the thou¬ 

sands. This laborious detail seems to have been the 
reason for other forms in which the two supralinear 
strokes were replaced by one sublinear stroke, and 
also why all strokes were abandoned in several 
other examples. 

Nonetheless, if these regular numerals suited 
quite a few Coptic manuscripts written in uncials, 
they were in fact less practical for rapid notations 
than the tailed Greek forms. This is why Greek nu¬ 
merals were often used in Coptic accounts rather 
than Coptic ones. 

These regular numerals underwent a process of 
graphic transformation, observed in other scripts 
and in particular in hieratic and in demotic, yield¬ 
ing many paleographical variations, which are yet 

1822 NUN 

to be studied. It seems that at a later stage scribes 
tried to assimilate the three Semitic letters to Cop¬ 
tic characters, which were drawn from demotic. 
The koppa was finally standardized as a fay (q), the 
sade as a shay (uj) or as the barred Greek letter rho 
{p), while the digamma was never assimilated by 
the demotic sign for 6. 

All these Coptic numerals were extensively used 
in Bohairic, less in Fayyumic, but rarely in Sahidic 
where numbers were normally written out in 
words. To express fractions, multiplication, and dis¬ 
tributive concepts, Coptic terms were used in both 
Sahidic and Bohairic. 

Fuad Megally 

NUN, a member of a female religious order living 
under vows of chastity and asceticism. With the 
dissemination of Christian ideals in the apostolic 
age, many widows and virgins separated themselves 
from society to worship God, initially in seclusion 
and later in communal groups (cf. 1 Tm. 5:9-10). 
Cenobitic conventual monasticism can therefore be 
said to antedate its male counterpart by several 
generations, as evidenced by several instances from 
the history of the Coptic church. For example, upon 
his consecration as patriarch in 199, DEMETRIUS I, 
twelfth patriarch of Alexandria, entrusted his wile, 
with whom he had lived in total abstinence, to the 
care of a community of devout women. Likewise, 
Saint Antony (c. 251-356), rightly called the Father 
of Monasticism, consigned his only sister to the 
care of a pious sisterhood before he devoted his life 
to solitary worship in the desert. Again, after Saint 
pachomius (c. 290-346) had established cenobitic 
Christian monasticism, his sister Mary is said to 
have visited him asking for guidance to lead a life 
of similar austerity and devotion. The cell that he 
built for her in the hills of Tabennese later- 
developed into a convent near Dandarah in Upper 
Egypt, of which his sister became the superior. This 
was followed by another near Akhmim. When Pach¬ 
omius died, Theodorus, his favorite disciple, estab¬ 
lished another convent at Faw in the vicinity of 
modern Qena. 

Besides being the spiritual father of thousands of 
monks living under his supervision, Apa SHENUTE 
the Archimandrite (343-425) founded a convent 
that accommodated about eighteen hundred nuns. 
When Palladius (c. 365-425) visited Egypt, twelve 
convents had already been established in Anti- 
noopolis alone. He recorded lengthy accounts of 
the saintliness of inmates of these convents. One 

such was Talida, whose prudence in administering 
her community was proverbial. Sixty nuns lived 
with her in real Christian fellowship and devotion, 
without once thinking of deserting the community, 
whose gate was never locked. Another was Taor, 
who lived in absolute self-negation for thirty years, 
consecrating all her time to prayer and worship. 

Mention must also be made of Saint Theodora 
(295-412), an ascetic of Alexandria, who was initi¬ 
ated nun by Saint Athanasius. According to De Lacy 
O'Leary, "she is said to have been the author of 
several useful treatises on spiritual subjects" (1937, 

p. 261). 

No candidate would be admitted to a convent 
until it was ascertained whether she had a real and 
unshakable desire to take the veil. Pachomius laid 
down strict regulations to organize the devotional 
activity of nuns, their fasting and prayers. They 
were given the task of making articles of clothing 
for monks in return for provisions and essential 
food supplies. But he forbade visitation between 
them except in the presence of the abbess or an 
aged monk. 

As to the minimum age of admission, it appears 
that no standard rules were enforced. While hash. 
THE GREAT stipulated sixteen or seventeen years of 
age, Ambrose, bishop of Milan, regarded maturity 
of character as the basic consideration. Again while 
the third Council of Carthage (397) agreed upon the 
age of twenty-five, that of Saragossa (381) raised it 
to forty. 

According to Canon 3 of the third Council of 
Carthage, the rite of initiation was to be performed 
only by a bishop or a priest authorized by him. In 
his commentary on The Rudder, Cummings (1908, 
p. 606) says of this canon, "Note that some say that 
the consecration of their virgins by means of 
prayers can be performed only by a bishop, and not 
also by a priest. But as for sponsoring these girls 
with the monachal habit, and reading to them the 
rite of bestowing the habit and tonsuring them, 
these things may be done by a priest by permission 
of the bishop. In fact some declare that even the 
consecration of virgins may be performed by a 
priest with permission of the bishop." 


Cummings, D. The Rudder (Pedalion), pp. 529, 606. 

Chicago, 1957. 

O'Leary, De L. The Saints of Egypt, p. 261. London, 


Smith, I. G. "Nun." In A Dictionary of Christian 

Antiquity, Vol. 2. London, 1908. 

Archbishop Basilios 

OBICINI, THOMAS (1585-1632), Italian Fran¬ 
ciscan and Orientalist. In 1616 and 1619 he took 
part in the discussions with the Nestorians (Chalde¬ 
ans) at the Synod of Diarbekr as papal delegate and 
was a member of the committee that produced the 
Arabic translation of the Bible for the Congregatio 
de propaganda fide. He was the first European 
scholar to study a scala (dictionary; Arabic, sullam) 
brought from Egypt by Pietro della Valle. When he 
died, the manuscript was published by A. Kircher. 
The result of Obicini's studies (IIS Borgiani Lat. 
769) was published by A. van Lantschoot as Un 
precurseur d'Athanasius Kircher: Thomas Ohicini et 
la scala vatic ana copte 71 (Bibliotheque du Museon 
22, Louvain, 1948). 


Giamberardini, G. "Father Thomas Obicini: Pioneer 
of Coptic Philology." Franciscan Studies 25 

Lantschoot, A. van. "Lettre inedite de Thomas Obi¬ 
cini." Revista degti studi orientali 28 (1953):IIS- 

Martin Krause 

work, Coptic. 

church building that first makes its appearance in 
the first half of the eleventh century. Outside of 
Egypt it is to be found in Greece, and from the 
twelfth century, in Islamic architecture. In this type 

of building the whole naos area is roofed over by a 
single dome, carried by eight supports arranged in 
the shape of an octagon. In single-aisled designs of 
this building type, the four side supports are 
developed as simple pilasters. Greece is the original 
domain of the octagon-domed churches, with exam¬ 
ples to be found especially in the island of Chios 
and Cyprus. If these churches are surrounded by an 
ambulatory and side chapels—as is the case in the 
examples scattered predominantly over the Greek 
mainland—the space between the pillars carrying 
the load is naturally left open. In the development 
of the other elements, such as the narlhex and the 
sanctuary, these churches agree with the other 
building types of the same period. 

The oldest examples of the octagon-domed 
church are found in Greece. The churches of Nea 
Moni (on Chios), Hosios Lukas, Daphne, and the 
church of Saint Nicodemus in Athens, today in Rus¬ 
sian ownership, were particularly important. All the 
churches mentioned were erected before the mid¬ 
dle of the eleventh century. The remaining exam¬ 
ples are of later date. They were built down to the 
fifteenth century. 

Apart from the evidence known only from the 
literature brought together in P. Grossmann (1985, 
p. 348), six examples have so far been identified in 
the Nile Valley, three of them in close proximity to 
Aswan: the churches of Dayr Anbii Hadra, Dayr 
Qubbat al-Hawa, and Dayr al-Shaykhah. All three 
examples are provided with an ambulatory. In the 
church of Dayr Anba Hadra two octagonal domes 
are in addition set one behind the other. The three 
remaining examples are single-aisled, and are locat¬ 
ed at Bayt al-Wall and Kulb (both in Nubia) and at 
Dayr al-Qusayr at Turah to the south of Cairo. 



Moreover, Dayr al-Qusdyr is a monastery that is in 
Greek (Melchite) hands, and there is scarcely any 
doubt that knowledge of this type of building came 
to Egypt through Melchite circles. These octagon- 
domed churches are not, therefore, a type of build¬ 
ing indigenous to Egypt. However, it was so widely 
assimilated that the remaining elements, such as, 
for example, the development of the sanctuary, are 
typically Egyptian. An octagon-domed building be¬ 
longing to Islamic architecture is the Mashhad of 
Yahyfi al-Shabih in Cairo, deriving from the twelfth 


Grossmann, P. Mittelalterliche Langhauskuppelkirch- 
en und verwandte Typen in Ober'dgypten, pp. 54- 
64, 147-56. GlUckstadt, 1982. 

-"Ein ncucr Achtstutzenbau im Raum von 

Aswan." Melanges G. Mokhtar, Vol. 1. Cairo, 1985. 

Monneret de Villard, U. // monustero di S. Simecme 
presso Aswan, Vol. 1. Milan, 1927. 

Novello, A. A. Grecia Bizantina, pp. 50-60. Milan, 

Stikas, E. l.'eglise byzantine de Christianou. Paris, 

Peter Grossmann 

OCTATEUCH OF CLEMENT, title, signifying 
an arrangement into eight books, given to a canoni¬ 
cal composition attributed to Clement, bishop of 
Rome, who is supposed to have received it from the 
apostle Peter. The true author is unknown, and it is 
assumed that the work was first composed in 
Greek. It is said to have been translated by one 
James, probably James of Edessa, in 687, but this 
date is without doubt valid only for the first two 
books of the Syriac recension, which form what is 
customarily called the Testamentum Domini. The 
content of the Coptic-Arabic recension is different 
from that of the Syriac, and it is not known who its 
author was. 

The text has been transmitted in two chronologi¬ 
cal collections (i.e., collections in which the canons 
are arranged chronologically rather than systemati¬ 
cally or thematically): that of the anonymous manu¬ 
script in East Berlin (MS Collection Diez qu. 107) 
and that of the monk Macarius of dayr anbA maqAr. 
preserved more or less completely by several man¬ 
uscripts (Graf, 1944, Vol. 1, pp. 560-63). It is miss¬ 
ing from the various systematic collections, proba¬ 
bly because their authors had perceived that the 

texts of the Octateuch of Clement were already 
transmitted in other documents. 

The contents of the Octateuch of Clement in the 
Coptic-Arabic recension are as follows: 

Book 1: Testamentum Domini. There are two Ara¬ 
bic recensions; the Syriac text was edited and 
translated by I. E. Rahman! (1899). 

Book 2: Canons 1-20 of the first book of the 127 
Canons of the Apostles. 

Book 3: Canons 21-24, 26, 25, 26b and d, 27-47 
of the first book of the 127 Canons, 

Book 4: Canons 48-51 of the 127 Canons. 

Book 5: Canons 5lb-56 of the 127 Canons. 

Book 6: Canons 57-60 and 64-71 of the 127 

Book 7: Canons 61-63 of the 127 Canons. 

Book 8: 56 canons from the second book of the 
127 Canons. 

The collection of the monk Macarius follows 
books 2-8 of the apostolic constitutions more ex¬ 
actly. The brothers Pericr (PO 8, pp. 557-59) give 
the text with a translation of Canons 45-59. 


Ciprotti, P., ed. La version syriaque de I'Octatcuquc 
de Clement, trans. F. Nau. Milan, 1967. 

Nau, F., trans. La Version syriaque de VOctateuque 
de Cltment. Ancienne literature canonique syria¬ 
que 4. Paris, 1913. 

P6rier, A., and J. P6rier. Les 127 Canons des 
Apo/res. PO 8, fasc. 4. Paris, 1912. 

Rahman!, I. E., ed. and trans. Testamentum Domini 
Jesu Christi. Mainz, 1899; repr. Hildesheim, 1968. 
Riedel, W. Die Kirchenrechtsquellen des Patriarch- 
a/s Alexandrien. Leipzig, 1900; repr. Aalen, 1968. 


OFFERTORY. In the early church, donations of 
bread and wine were made by the laity to be conse¬ 
crated in the cucharistic service, and the term "of¬ 
fertory" came also to mean the prayers said by the 
priest during this part of the Divine Liturgy. 

In his epistle to the Corinthians, Saint Clement of 
Rome (11. c. 90-100) wrote, "It behoves us to do all 
things in [their proper] order, which the Lord has 
commanded us to perform at stated times. He has 
enjoined offerings flo be presented] and service to 
be performed [to Him]. . . . Those, therefore, who 
present their offerings at the appointed times, are 
accepted and blessed." 



According to the apostolic tradition (Hippolytus, 
1934, 20.10), those who were to be baptized and 
confirmed were required to bring their oblations to 
be offered at the Easter Communion following their 
baptism. Al-$AFl ibn AL-'ASSAl. made reference to the 
preparation of oblations either from the church’s 
own provisions or from donations made by the 
faithful, with the proviso that they should not be 
accepted from blasphemers, adulterers, or other 
wrongdoers and lawbreakers, quoting Solomon's 
proverb that a wicked man's sacrifice is abominable 
to the Lord. 

Although this practice has been discontinued in 
modern times, and churches now prepare their 
own eucharistic bread, the Coptic liturgy still pre¬ 
serves this tradition in its prayers. Thus, in the 
morning offering of incense the priest says, "We 
pray and entreat Thy goodness, O Thou. Lover-of- 
Man. Remember, O Lord, the sacrifices, the obla¬ 
tions, and the thanksgiving of all those that have 
offered them, unto the honor and glory of Thy holy 

The deacon responds, "Pray for them who attend 
to the sacrifices, the oblations . . . that Christ our 
God may reward them in the heavenly Jerusalem, 
and forgive us our sins." Also, after choosing the 
most perfect of the loaves offered to be the Lamb in 
the Divine Liturgy, the priest says, "Remember, O 
Lord, those who offered unto Thee these oblations, 
them for whom they were offered and by whom 
they were offered. Give them all their heavenly rec¬ 
ompense." The deacon responds, "Pray for these 
holy and honored offerings, our sacrifices and those 
who offered them." A similar prayer is said by the 
priest on two further occasions: once, inaudibly, 
while the Arabic Gospel is being read by the dea¬ 
con, and again toward the end of the minor inter¬ 
cessions. Furthermore, there is the Prayer of Obla¬ 
tion, inaudibly said by the priest following the 
Prayer of Thanksgiving and prior to the Absolution 
of the Minister: "We pray and entreat Thy good¬ 
ness, O Lover-of-man, [pointing to the bread] cause 
Thy face to shine upon this bread, and [pointing to 
the chalice] upon this cup, which we have placed 
on this priestly table [pointing to the altar], which 
is Thine." 

The offertory is a vehicle for a total sharing with 
Christ and a means of entering into full commu¬ 
nion with Him. Such consummate union could not 
find better or more poignant expression than the 
words of Saint Ignatius, bishop of Antioch (c. 35- 
107), when he was faced with imminent martyr¬ 
dom. "I beseech you not to show an unseasonable 

good-will towards me. Suffer me to become food 
for the wild beasts, through whose instrumentality 
it will be granted me to attain to God. I am the 
wheat of God, and am ground by the teeth of the 
wild beasts. . . . Entreat Christ for me, that by these 
instruments I may be found a sacrifice to God" 
(1956, p. 75). 


Jungmann, J. A. The Early Liturgy. I-ondon, 1960. 
Malati, T. Y. Christ in the Eucharist, Vol. 5, pp. 

268-75. Alexandria, 1973. 

Safi ibn al-'Assal, ak Kitah al-Qawanin. Rcpr. Cairo, 

Archbishop Basiuos 

OIKONOMOS, a term of Greek origin denoting 
an ecclesiastical or monastic functionary who is 
involved in economic activity, a steward. As a rule, 
although not necessarily, he was a presbyter or dea¬ 

In churches the oikonomos is well attested al¬ 
ready by the fourth century. Mention is made of an 
oikonomos in the episcopal church in Tentyra; such 
functionaries appear also in literary texts and docu¬ 
ments (Wipszycka, 1972). In the middle of the fifth 
century, the Council of CHALCEDON. sanctioning an 
already existing practice, made it obligatory for the 
bishop to have an oikonomos. The existence of an 
oikonomos in lower-ranking churches depended 
upon the local conditions—the composition of cler¬ 
gy, the church property that had to be adminis¬ 
tered, et cetera. The oikonomos was always nomi¬ 
nated by a bishop also for the nonepiscopal 
churches. He was responsible to the bishop, and his 
personal belongings served as a guarantee for re¬ 
paying eventual losses. The oikonomos of episcopal 
churches was considerably independent; this was 
inevitable in view of the enormous scale of his 
functions and the size of church property. J. Gascou 
the organization of tax collecting in a given area 
was sometimes part of the tasks of the oikonomos of 
the episcopal church. The church was able to retain 
some of the collected sums, although this was by no 
means the rule. An oikonomos of an episcopal 
church was helped by numerous personnel, whose 
functions and titles we know but scantily. 

The oikonomos is found in all monastic commu¬ 
nities regardless of their size and type. The need to 
establish such a function was dictated by life itself: 


by handing over to one particular monk all the 
work necessary for the existence of the community 
and demanding contacts with the world, the other 
monks could withdraw from worldly matters. 
Hence the very institution of the oikonomos, al¬ 
though not necessarily the title itself, dates back to 
the beginnings of Egyptian monasticism. 

The title oikonomos occurs in the oldest Pacho- 
mian monasteries during the life of their founder, 
that is, in the first half of the fourth century. In 
monastic centers of a complex structure there were 
usually oikonomoi of various levels—one must also 
take into account the possibility of different titles. 
This vvas the case in the Pachomian congregation, 
in Nitria, the Kellia, the Apa Apollo monastery in 
Bawit, and in Enaton. It is worth noting that the 
small group of ascetics gathered around the Pambo 
mentioned by Palladius ( Historia lausiuca 10.1) had 
an oikonomos slightly before 370. There were also 
oikonomoi who organized the economic existence 
of the laura in Balayzah and Wadi Saijah. Monaster¬ 
ies were able to have simultaneously more than one 

There is no information on how the oikonomos 
was nominated in the monasteries, with the excep¬ 
tion of the Pachomian communities, where the de¬ 
cision was made by the superior of the whole con¬ 
gregation. We must therefore presume that this was 
one of the privileges of the superior. We also do not 
know to what extent the oikonomos had the right to 
independent decision. The fact that there is a great 
number of documents signed by him is not satisfac¬ 
tory proof, since such signatures could have been 
the result of special delegation from the superior. 
In larger communities, with well-developed eco¬ 
nomic services, the oikonomos headed the diaconia. 

Another special case concerns a Pachomian mon¬ 
astery in Tabennese, where the monks employed in 
the kitchen and refectory were called "small oikon¬ 
omoi," in contrast to the oikonomos who adminis¬ 
tered the monastery, or "the great oikonomos," 
whose functions were concerned with the whole 

An ensemble of documents pertaining to DAYK APA 
PHOIBAMMON in Dayr al-Bahri reflects a shift in the 
meaning of the term. Oikonomos is used here inter¬ 
changeably with proestos, in order to describe the 
superior. This process is attested also in other 
places, and indubitably proves the growing impor¬ 
tance of economic matters in monastic life since 
the introduction of capitation taxes for the monks 
at the beginning of the eighth century. The exis¬ 
tence of the monasteries began to depend primarily 

upon the ability to collect appropriate sums, and 
this presented a problem for the smaller and poorer 
communities. The new meaning of the term sur¬ 
vived later on, as is shown, for example, by the 
colophons of manuscripts dating from the ninth 
and tenth centuries (van Lantschoot, 1929). 


Barison, P. "Ricerche sui monasteri dell'Kgitto bi- 
zantino ed arabo." Aegyptus 18 (1938):46-48. 
Godlewski, W. Deir el-Bahari V. Le monas/ere de St. 

Phoibatnmon. Warsaw, 1986. 

Lantschoot, A. van. Recueil dcs colophons dcs man- 
uscrits chretiens d'Egypte. Louvain, 1959. 
Wipszycka, E. Les ressources et les activitds itcono- 
miques des eglises en Egypte, pp. 135-41. Brus¬ 
sels, 1972. 

Ewa Wipszycka 

OKTOKAIDEKATON, one of the monasteries 
of the coastal strip that separates the sea from the 
western tongue of Lake Mareotis to the west of 
Alexandria. The Oktokaidekaton is so called from 
its location in the neighborhood of the eighteenth 
milestone fiom Alexandria. 

Its site has not been located, but the Life of Saint 
Theodora characterizes it picturesquely as a desert 
place, the haunt of wild beasts, a lakeside harbor, 
with shepherds in the neighborhood—probably no¬ 
mads or semi nomads like those bedouins who are 
still present near the main Egyptian monasteries. 
These shepherds were sometimes the source of 
wool and of milk. Gardens painstakingly irrigated 
by wells or cisterns produced vegetables, but grain 
and oil were sometimes lacking. It was then neces¬ 
sary for the monks to go to nearby Alexandria to 
look for these, taking their camels. The two-way 
journey could be done in a day. Alternatively they 
could sleep, together with their animals, at the rest 
house of the enaton, hallway to Alexandria. 

The origins of the Oktokaidekaton are obscure, 
and its history is sparsely documented. The monas¬ 
tery makes its first appearance in 457. At that time 
its monks were participating with those of the ENA¬ 
TON and the EIKOSTON in the election of the "Cop¬ 
tic" successor of Archbishop Dioscorus, timothy ae- 
lurus (458-460 and 475-480). In the reign of Zeno 
(474-491) the Oktokaidekaton was the setting for 
the edifying life of Theodora of Alexandria, who 
disguised herself as a man (see in addition to 
Wesscly's edition, Metaphrastes, cols. 665-89; note 



that Nicephorus, col. 232, locates this life at the Ena- 
ton). A little later. Plousianos, who was a former 
official of the prefect of Egypt and who was a friend 
of Zaeharias the Scholastic, became a monk at the 
Oktokaidekaton. Judging horn a scholium of the 
Vice Dux of Anastasius the Sinaite, it is possible that 
Saint sever us OF ANTIOCH withdrew to the Oktokaid¬ 
ekaton in 518, in the company of Gaianus. But 
more dependable sources state that this occurred at 
the Enaton, and in the company of Julian of Hali¬ 
carnassus. Andronicus, a goldsmith of Antioch, and 
his wife were monastics at the Oktokaidekaton. The 
Life of DANIEL of scetis tells in this connection of a 
dispute between the Scetiotes and those from the 
Oktokaidekaton, the object of which was the posses¬ 
sion of the relics of Andronicus. Daniel settled the 
suit in favor of the Oktokaidekaton. In the same 
collection there can be found the edifying story of 
ThomaYs, the wife of a fisherman from the Oktok¬ 
aidekaton. She was assassinated by her father-in- 
law, seemingly a monk from this establishment, and 
was buried subsequently in the monastery's ceme¬ 
tery. The historical value of these tales is very 
slight: there are other traditions placing the life of 
Andronicus in the reign of Theodosius I, whereas 
Daniel of Scetis would have lived under JUSTINIAN 
(cf. van Cauwenbergh, 1914, pp. 20ff.). 

The latest references to the LAURA of the Oktokai- 
dekaton are provided by John Moschus, at the end 
of the sixth or beginning of the seventh century, 
who there visited a holy man, and by Anastasius of 
Sinai. The latter had a theological controversy at 
Alexandria with two Monophysites, one of them 
John “of Zygas," a monk from the Oktokaidekaton, 
around 635-640. 

The organization of the laura must have been 
similar to that of the Enaton: an agglomeration of 
autonomous koinobia rather than a single monas¬ 
tery. However, the Oktokaidekaton as described in 
Wessely’s life of Theodora does appear to be a sin¬ 
gle establishment (like the Enaton). The place is, it 
appears, enclosed, with a solid masonry entrance 
and a doorman. Penitent monks lived outside in a 
hut. An archimandrite or HEGUMENOS presided over 
the establishment; he tested vocational purity. The 
group of priors would pass on to him the wishes or 
the other brethren. 


Cauwenbergh, P. van. Etude stir les monies d'Egypte 

depuis le candle de Chalcedoine jusqua I'in¬ 
vasion arabe. Paris and Louvain, 1914. 

Guidi, I. “Vie et recits de l’abbd Daniel de Sc6te 
(Vie siecle)." Revue de VOrient chrelien 5 
(1900):535 — 64; 6 (1901 ):51-53. 

Raabe, R. S. Petrus der Iberer. Leipzig, 1895. 
Wessely, K. “Die Vita s. Theodorae.” Fiinfzehnter 
Jahresbericht des k. und k. S la a tsgym nasiums in 
Hernals, pp. 24-44. Vienna, 1889. 

Jean Gascou 

OLD COPTIC. See Appendix. 

OF THE. The earliest Arabic translations of 
books of the Old Testament date to the Middle 
Ages. There are extant medieval manuscripts of the 
hooks of Chronicles, Ezra, Joshua, Judges, Nchemi- 
ah. the Pentateuch, and Ruth. 

Books of Chronicles 

The Arabic versions of the two books of Chroni¬ 
cles have not been the object of special study. G. 
Graf does not give a list of the manuscripts, but 
simply mentions some of them in passing when 
speaking of the books of Kings. At the present stage 
of research, classification is provisional. 

In the sixth chapter of the Lamp of the Darkness, 
composed by Abu al-Barakat 1BN kabar between 
1300 and 1320, there are two mentions of these 
books. They are called Kitah Fadaldt al-Muluk, 
which renders the Greek paralipomena well, and 
they are divided into two hooks. 

The brief descriptions given in the manuscript 
catalogs suggest that the Copts were acquainted 
with at least six different Arabic versions of Chroni¬ 

Version of the Polyglot Bibles. The oldest man¬ 
uscript of this version (National Library, Paris, 
Arabe 23) was copied in Egypt at the beginning of 
the fourteenth century. Folios 168v-87v give the 
text of 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles 1:1-35:11. 
The end of the manuscript—2 Chronicles 35:12- 
36:23—was found at Copenhagen (Arabic 76, fols. 

Three other manuscripts appear to contain this 
same version. In chronological order, they are: (1) 
National Library, Paris, Arabe 1 (a.d. 1585), fols. 
168v-195v; (2) Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo, Bible 38 
(fols. 168r-218v, Graf, no. 244; Simaykah, no. 49). 
In this manuscript, 1 Chronicles is entitled “Sixth 
Book of Kings,” and is divided into six chapters; 2 


Chronicles is entitled "Book of Solomon, Son of 
David, drawn from the Books of Kings," and is not 
divided into chapters; and (3) Bodleian Library, Ox¬ 
ford, 270, (fols. 183v-end; Nicoll, Christian Arabic 
2, end of seventeenth century); the manuscript is 
mutilated and stops at 2 Chronicles 17:17; 1 Chroni¬ 
cles in this manuscript is entitled "Sixth Book of 

Version Prior to the Fourteenth Century (per¬ 
haps from the Syriac). The oldest known manu¬ 
script of this version is Bodleian 493 (fols. 200r- 
62v; Nicoll, Christian Arabic 5, A.D. 1321; mutilated 
text). The superscription to the first book reads: 
"First book of the Sifr d [sic] Yuniln [Pebr ydtnan ], 
which being translated is the son of the right hand, 
and it is the fifth part of the books of Kings." 

Two other manuscripts of the Coptic Patriarchate 
of Cairo probably belong to this version: (1) Coptic 
Patriarchate, Cairo, Bible 32 (fols. 100-125; Graf, 
no. 235; Simaykah, no. 23, A.D. 1585), called "Book 
of Bar Yumln"; and (2) Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo, 
Bible 37 (fols. 2l5v-86v; Graf, no. 236; Simaykah, 
no. 94, a.d. 1760); the first book in this manuscript 
is entitled "First part of the book of Dcbr Yamin, 
which means the son of the right hand, which is the 
relics of the Kings, which is the Chronicles which is 
the fifth book of the books of Kings." 

None of the catalogs gives an incipit, and identifi¬ 
cation is therefore hypothetical, being based on cer¬ 
tain common elements. These manuscripts give the 
Hebrew title ( dibre hayyqtnin), along with a wrong 
but identical translation of the title, "the son of the 
right hand," which must have its origin in the Syri¬ 
ac sfar dbar yomin. 

Reworked Version of Version Prior to the 
Fourteenth Century. A recast version appears to 
be close to the pre-fourteenth-century version. It 
gives the Syriac title dbr yamin with the translation 
"the son of the right hand." However, here the 
division is different. The two books of Chronicles 
are considered as constituting the third part of the 
books of Kings, but the first book contains I Chron¬ 
icles and chapters 1 -5 of 2 Chronicles. The second 
book begins at chapter 6 of 2 Chronicles. Neverthe¬ 
less, the text of this version might be identical to 
the foregoing, for about a manuscript in the Coptic 
Patriarchate (Bible 44), Graf writes (1934, p. 96): 
"The same books of the Old Testament as in 236 
[Bible 37] with the same text, but a different divi¬ 
sion." Unfortunately, no catalog gives an incipit. 

Three manuscripts give this version: (1) Vatican 
Library, Arabic 399 (fols. 181r-240v; fifteenth cen¬ 
tury according to Assemani; 1523 according to 

Graf); the last six chapters of 2 Chronicles are lack¬ 
ing through mutilation of the manuscript; (2) Cop¬ 
tic Museum, Cairo, Bible 102 (fols. 156v-209v; sev¬ 
enteenth century; Graf, no. 674; Simaykah, no. 29); 
the last folio, containing 2 Chronicles 36:9-23, is 
lacking; and (3) Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo, Bible 44 
(fols. 175v-237v; a.d. 1782; Graf, no. 237; Simaykah, 
no. 107). 

Three Fifteenth-Century Manuscripts Not Iden¬ 
tified as to Their Versions. A manuscript in the 
National Library, Paris (Arabc 24, copied in Egypt 
in the fifteenth centuiy), is a small manuscript of 68 
folios that contains only the two books of Chroni¬ 
cles. However, between folios 38 and 39 there is a 
lacuna corresponding to 1 Chronicles 29:3 to 2 
Chronicles 16:2. We calculate that this corresponds 
to two quin ions (twenty folios). This manuscript is 
not mentioned by Graf. 

A manuscript in Florence (Palatina Mediceae Ori- 
cntalium 9 [olim 4], copied in Egypt in a.d. 1496) 
contains the two books of Chronicles, but the folios 
have been shuffled and should be reordered as fol¬ 
lows: 93r-101v (1 Chronicles), 65v-79r (2 Chroni¬ 
cles 1-9), and 102r-109v (2 Chronicles 10-36). No 
incipit is given. 

In a manuscript in the Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo 
(Bible 50; Graf, no. 257; Simaykah, no. 44; fifteenth- 
century Egyptian) folios 252r-83r contain 1 and 2 
Chronicles. The former is divided into five chapters, 
while the latter is not divided. 

The 1671 Propaganda Edition. From the second 
half of the eighteenth centuiy onward, probably un¬ 
der the influence of the European missionaries, the 
1671 Roman translation became diffused within the 
Coptic church. We know of seven manuscripts kept 
at the Coptic Patriarchate of Cairo, and an eighth at 
the Coptic Museum. In chronological order, the 
manuscripts are: (1) Coptic Museum, Cairo, Bible 
87 (fols. 157v-200v [mutilated manuscript]; eight¬ 
eenth century; Graf, no. 670; Simaykah, no. 41); the 
text ends at 2 Chronicles 29:1; (2) Coptic Patriar¬ 
chate, Cairo, Bible 31 (fols. 289v-335v; 1778; Graf, 
no. 254; Simaykah, no. 101); (3) Coptic Patriar¬ 
chate. Cairo, Bible 35 (fols. 123v-72v; 1779; Graf, 
no. 231; Simaykah, no. 103); (4) Coptic Patriar¬ 
chate, Cairo, Bible 42 (fols. 177r-233v; 1782; Graf, 
no. 221; Simaykah, no. 106); (5) Coptic Patriar¬ 
chate, Cairo, Bible 48 (fols. 303v-47v; 1784; Graf, 
no. 218; Simaykah, no. 115); (6) Coptic Patriar¬ 
chate. Cairo, Bible 43 (fols. I83r-252r; 1786; Graf, 
no. 215; Simaykah, no. 117); (7) Coptic Patriar¬ 
chate, Cairo, Bible 33 (fols. 136r-201v; 1833; Graf, 
no. 223; Simaykah, no. 186); and (8) Coptic Patriar- 



chate, Cairo, Bible 36 (fols. 134v-93v; nineteenth 
century; Graf, no. 224; Simaykah, no. 167); Graf 
states (1934, p. 92), "following the text of the Ro¬ 
man edition [of 1671], but with several stylistic 

Raphael Tukhl’s Edition (1752). In 1752, Ruf5*il 
al-Tukhl, a Coptic Catholic who had settled in 
Rome, published an Arabic Bible which was influ¬ 
enced by the Latin Vulgate. It is not known to what 
extent his version made its way into the Coptic 
Church of Egypt. 


Ezra among Ihe Copts, Thirteenth and Four¬ 
teenth Centuries. In the Copts' Arabic manuscript 
tradition, the book of Ezra is always called the 
"Second Book of Esdras," as in the Septuagint. 
Most frequently, it also includes the book of Nehc- 
miah, as in Hebrew. The "First Book of Esdras" is, 
depending on the manuscripts, one of two apocry¬ 
pha, either 3 Esdras of the Vulgate or 4 Esdras 
{Apocalypse of Esdras). These two apocrypha are 
studied in the context of the Old Testament apocry¬ 

Canon 55 of the 56 Canons of the Apostles , the 
Arabic version of which could be from the tenth 
century, mentions "the first and second book of Es¬ 
dras, which form a single book," after the book of 
Ruth the Moabite. This might correspond to Ezra 
and Nehemiah, or else to one of the apocrypha 
followed by Ezra-Nehemiah. 

Around 1320, Abu al-Barakat Ibn Kabar complet¬ 
ed the redaction of his religious encyclopedia, 
Misbah al-Zultnuh (I-amp of Darkness). In chapter 6 
he deals with Holy Scripture, and mentions Esdras 
twice. The first time is in the list of the books of the 
Old Testament (inspired by Canon 55). At no. 17 he 
writes; "The book of Esdras: two books" (cf. Samir, 
1971, p. 210). The second time, in his analysis of 
the work, he mentions at no. 14 only the canonical 
book of 2 Esdras of the Septuagint or I Esdras of 
the Vulgate (Samir, 1971, p. 225). He does not men¬ 
tion Nehemiah, which is probably included in 

An echo of the debate surrounding the canonical 
status of the two books of Esdras appears in a man¬ 
uscript in the Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo (Theology 
286; Graf, no. 338; Simaykah, no. 366). This theo¬ 
logical manuscript is concluded by the Apocalypse 
of Esdras (fols. 286r-321v), here called the "book 
of the scribe of the law 'Azra the prophet, called 
al-'Uzayr . . . ; this is the first book." This is fol¬ 

lowed by the canonical book of Ezra (fols. 322r- 
54r), which begins with the following note: "Trans¬ 
lation of the book of *Azrah, the scribe of the law, 
[written] after the return from the captivity of Bab¬ 
ylon, as is the belief of the Christians. However, 
according to the opinion of the Jews, this book was 
not written by him, as he is not mentioned in any 
way in the first book. The church is not in agree¬ 
ment with this, since there is a consensus concern¬ 
ing these two books in the church: they belong to 
the books numbered by the church, but no others 
[i.e., books of Esdras]" (Graf, 1934, p. 127). This 
manuscript, copied by a Copt in the eighteenth cen¬ 
tury, has in fact a far earlier origin; the text of 
Esdras it gives is veiy similar to that of a manu¬ 
script (Bodleian Library, Oxford, 251) copied in 
Egypt in 1335. 

Eliminating the modern versions of the Bible, it 
is possible to identify four separate Arabic versions 
of the book of Esdras translated by the Copts or 
well known to them. 

The Ancient Version. The first version, which is 
not only the earliest attested, but stylistically the 
most archaic, is found in two manuscripts, one cop¬ 
ied in Cairo in 1335 (Bodleian Library, Oxford, 
251); and the other, from Egypt at the end of the 
sixteenth centuiy (Vatican Library, Arabic 3), which 
seems to have been copied from the former manu¬ 
script when it was still in Egypt. 

In these manuscripts the text is entitled: "This is 
the second book of 'Azra, which contains the ac¬ 
count of the return of the children of Israel h orn 
the captivity of Babylon, the construction of the 
temple, and the renewal of Jerusalem." 

A recasting of this version appears in two manu¬ 
scripts of the Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo (Bible 75, 
fols. 29r-55r, Graf, no. 219, Simaykah, no. 51, 
Egypt, 1691; and Theology 286, fols. 322r-354r, 
Graf, no. 338; Simaykah, no. 366, Egypt, eighteenth 
century). Although this is not stated in the catalogs, 
they most probably also contain the book of Nehe¬ 

In these four manuscripts, the first book of 
Esdras, which precedes the canonical text, is the 
Apocalypse of Esdras {4 Esdras in the Vulgate), 
while in the manuscripts of the following version it 
is 3 Esdras in the Vulgate. Furthermore, in these 
four manuscripts, the "second book of Esdras" con¬ 
tains Ezra and Nehemiah or 1 Esdras and 2 Esdras 
in the Vulgate, while in the other version it contains 
only 1 Esdras in the Vulgate, without Nehemiah. 

The Version of the Polyglot Bibles. A second 
Arabic version used among the Copts was the text 


of the polyglot Bibles of Paris (1629-1645) and 
London (1657). This text is completely different 
from the first version and its revision. This version 
is considerably more literary than the preceding 
one. According to Emil Roediger, cited by Graf 
(1944, vol. 1, p. 112, 1. 26), this text seems to have 
been translated from the Syriac of the Peshitta. 

It is usually stated that the two polyglot Bibles 
were based on a manuscript (Paris, Arabe 1) copied 
in Egypt in 1585. This information is not verified. 
The same incipit occurs in a manuscript copied in 
Cairo in 1585-1586 (British Library. London, Or. 
1326). In this manuscript, the “first book of Esdras” 
(fols. 50v-57r) corresponds to 3 Esdras in the Vul¬ 
gate, whereas the second (fols. 58r-63r) corre¬ 
sponds only to I Esdras. 

Two manuscripts of the Coptic Patriarchate. 
Cairo, probably give the same Arabic text (Bible 34. 
fols. 20v-32v, copied c. 1578, Graf, no. 246, Simay- 
kah, no. 36; and Bible 86, fols. 257r-67v, copied in 
1741, Graf, no. 245, Simaykah, no. 80). In both 
these manuscripts, the canonical text is preceded 
by 3 Esdras of the Vulgate. 

The 1671 Propaganda Version. A third Arabic 
version, totally independent of the two foregoing 
ones, is found in the text published by the Congre¬ 
gate de Propaganda Fide at Rome in 1671. Al¬ 
though this text is extraneous to the Coptic tradi¬ 
tion, it was the most widespread among the Copts. 
According to Graf (1944, Vol. 1, p. 112 sec.), there 
are no less than eleven manuscripts of this text kept 
at the Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo, copied between 
1691 and 1833. 

Version by Raphael Tukhl. In 1752, the Copt 
Rufa’il al-Tukhl published the whole of the Bible in 
two volumes in Rome at the press of Angelo (Ma- 
liik) Rutili. This version was intended for diffusion 
among the Christians of Egypt; Graf lists no manu¬ 
scripts ol this version, but it is possible that some of 
the eleven manuscripts attributed to the Propagan¬ 
da version are based on this one. In point of fact, 
TukhTs version is actually a revision of the Propa¬ 
ganda version: he drew his inspiration from it and 
improved its style (it is also customarily staled that 
he revised the text to bring it closer to the Vulgate). 


The medieval and later Coptic tradition was ac¬ 
quainted with at least four different Arabic versions 
of the book of Joshua. The principal source of the 
following information is the manuscript catalogs. 

The first version derives from the Syriac text of 

the Peshitta. When or how this version made its 
appearance among the Copts is uncertain; the old¬ 
est known manuscript is dated 1321. Strangely, this 
version is practically unknown among the Syrians 
or other Christian communities. By way of the Paris 
manuscript, this version was used for the two poly¬ 
glot Bible editions of Paris and London, thereby 
acquiring a certain official character, at least in the 

The principal manuscripts in chronological order 

(1) Bodleian Library, Oxford, 493 (fols. 3r-31v, 
20 Baramhat a m. 1037/16 Safer A H. 721/17 March 
a.d. 1321); (2) Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo, Bible 57 
(fols. lr-20v, 41 r-44v, fourteenth or fifteenth cen- 
tury; Graf, no. 273; Simaykah, no. 61); (3) Coptic 
Patriarchate, Cairo, Bible 50 (fols. lv-30v fin 18 
chapters]; a gloss adds: “It is said that there exists a 
work in Coptic which complements and completes 
this work"; fifteenth century; Graf, no. 257; Simay¬ 
kah, no. 44); (4) Palatina Mediccae, Florence, Ori- 
cntalium 9 (olim 4; fols. 1 v-12r; 1496-1497); (5) 
National Library, Paris, Arabe 1 (fols. 86v-96v; 
1585); and (6) Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo, Bible 21 
(fols. I47v-167v, 1587; Graf, no. 242; Simaykah, no. 

A second Arabic version from the Syriac is attest¬ 
ed in a manuscript in the Coptic Patriarchate (Bible 
32; fols. 74vff.; 1585; Graf, no. 235; Simaykah, no. 

A third Arabic version attested among the Copts 
is to be found in the original portion of a manu¬ 
script in the Vatican Library (Arabic 449; fols. 18r- 
29r; 1335) that gives the text of chaps. 16-24 (num¬ 
bered in the manuscript as 12-17). This Arabic text 
is translated from the Greek of the Septuagint, per¬ 
haps through the intermediary of a Coptic version 
(cf. Vaccari, p. 102, sec. 2, who studied a Karsh uni 
(a special script) copy of this text contained in the 
manuscript no. 2108 of the Biblioteca Casanatense 
in Rome). 

A fourth Arabic version that was greatly diffused 
among the Copts from the eighteenth century on¬ 
ward was translated from the Latin text of the Vul¬ 
gate. These are copies made from the 1671 Roman 
edition. They are to be found in an eighteenth- 
century manuscript of Joshua 10:4-24:33 (Coptic 
Museum, Cairo, Bible 87; folios llr-25v; Graf, no. 
670; Simaykah, no. 41), and in at least five manu¬ 
scripts of the Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo (Bible 31, 
fols. 152vff., 1778, Graf, no. 254, Simaykah, no. 101; 
Bible 42, fols. 2r-25v, 1782, Graf, no. 221; Simay¬ 
kah, no. 106; Bible 48. fols. 164r-81v, 1784, Graf, 



no. 218; Simaykah, no. 115; Bible 43, fols. lr-27r, 
A.D. 1786, Graf, no. 215, Simaykah, no. 117; Bible 
41, fols. 138vfL, 1872, Graf, no. 233; Simaykah, no. 

Once more, it is surprising that the Arabic ver¬ 
sions of the Bible diffused among the Copts are of 
very diverse origins, and that those of Coptic origin 
are extremely rare if not nonexistent. 


The lines published by G. Graf (1944, Vol. 1, p. 
110, 11. 5-30) on the Arabic versions of the book of 
Judges have been superseded by the work of Bengt 
Knutsson. Certain additional details are contained 
in the article by Samir (1981) on the date and espe¬ 
cially the origin of the manuscripts and also the 
connection between some of them. These observa¬ 
tions are important for the present article. A cor¬ 
rection must, however, be made to what is stated 
concerning Vatican Library, Arabic 468 (Samir, pp. 
91-92—MS e): it is of Melchite, not Coptic, origin. 

The Copts have been acquainted with at least se¬ 
ven different Arabic versions of the book of Judges. 

The Version of the Polyglot Bibles. The first of 
these, which was certainly the more widely dif¬ 
fused, was translated from the Syriac text of the 
Peshitta with later influences deriving from the Sep- 
tuagint. This version was published in the two poly¬ 
glot Bibles, of Paris (1645) and London (1657). A 
critical edition of chapters 1,6, 11, and 21 is given 
by Knutsson (1974, pp. 238-68). 

The author of this version is unknown, as is the 
date it was made. The oldest known manuscript 
would appear to be from the end of the thirteenth 
century and of Iraqi provenance. Neither is the date 
known when it made its appearance in the Coptic 
church; the oldest Coptic manuscript is dated 1344. 

This version is attested today by at le;ist fifteen 
manuscripts, twelve of which are of Coptic prove¬ 
nance. These arc listed below for the first time, in 
chronological order and with precise references: 
(1) National Library, Paris, Arabe 22 (1344); (2) 
Cambridge Add. 3044 (1355; catalog by Browne, no. 
1298); (3) National Library. Paris, Arabe 23 (P) and 
Copenhagen, Arabic 76 (C); a fourteenth-century 
manuscript, now divided, to be reassembled as fol¬ 
lows (cf. Samir, 1981, p. 97): P 1-23, C 1-2, P 
24-187, C 3-20; (4) Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo, Bi¬ 
ble 57 (fourteenth-fifteenth centuries; Graf, no. 273; 
Simaykah, no. 61); (5) Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo, 
Bible 50 (fifteenth century; Graf, no. 257; Simaykah, 
no. 44); (6) Medicea Laurentiana, Florence, Orient- 

alium 9 (olim Or. 4; 1496); (7) Vatican Library, 
Arabe 399 (1523); (8) National Library, Paris, Arabe 
1 (1584-1585); (9) Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo, Bible 
32 (1585, by the same—Muslim—copyist as the 
foregoing; cf. Samir pp. 99-101; Graf, no. 235; Sim¬ 
aykah, no. 23); (10) Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo, Bi¬ 
ble 38 (1686; Graf, no. 244; Simaykah, no. 49); (11) 
Bodleian Library, Oxford, 270 (end of seventeenth 
century, cf. Samir, 1981, p. 92, no. 4; catalog: Ni- 
coll, no. 2); (12) Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo, Bible 
44 (1782; Graf, no. 2.37; Simaykah, no. 107). 

Syro-Egyptlan Version. The second version is 
known from only two manuscripts, both of Coptic 
origin. Here, too, no information is available con¬ 
cerning the translator or the dale at which this 
version made its appearance in the Coptic church, 
other than that it was prior to 1321, the dale at 
which the earlier of the two manuscripts was cop¬ 
ied. These two manuscripts are (I) Bodleian Li¬ 
brary, Oxford, 493 (1321; catalog: Nicoll, no. 5) and 
(2) Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo, Bible 37 (1760; Graf, 
no. 236, Simaykah, no. 94). 

The text would appear to be (according to Knuts¬ 
son, pp. 225-27) more faithful to the model of the 
Peshitta than that of the foregoing version. Howev¬ 
er, Knutsson states that the Oxford manuscript 
shows signs of Greek influence (however, these may 
he Coptic influences). Knutsson (pp. 270-87) gives 
an edition of chaps. 1, 6, 11, and 22. 

Coptic Version. The third version is known only 
from a single manuscript of Coptic origin (Vatican 
Library, Arabic 449, dated 1335). Contrary to Graf 
(1944, Vol. 1, p. 110, II. 24-26) and Knutsson 
(1974, cf. pp. 5-6, 17-18), this text was not translat¬ 
ed directly from the Septuagint but from the Coptic 
(probably Bohairic), which derived, in turn, from 
the Septuagint (cf. Vaccari, 1923, p. 102, sec. 2). 
The manuscript contains two lacunae: Judges 6:13- 
32 and 18:30-19:24 (cf. Knutsson, 1923, p. 17). 

This manuscript was used as a model (only for 
the historical books; otherwise the model was Vati¬ 
can Library, Arabic 445) lor the manuscript in the 
Biblioteca Casanatcnsc, Rome (no. 2108), as has 
been shown by Vaccari (1923, pp. 102-103). This 
manuscript in Syriac characters was the work of 
the Maronite bishop of Damascus, Sarkis al-Ruzzi 
(Sergio Risi), who copied it during his stay in Rome 
between 1622 and 1638 for the Propaganda edition 
of the Arabic Bible. Here too, the lacunae reappear. 

Propaganda Mixed Version. The fourth version 
is the Propaganda edition (Rome, 1671). It is based 
principally on the Vatican Library, Arabic 468, 
based on the Peshitta, with minor revisions taken 


from the Casanatense manuscript and others based 
on the Latin Vulgate. This version was reedited, 
with correction of the typographical errors, at Lon¬ 
don in 1857. Knutsson gives (1974. pp. 302-313) 
chapters 1, 6, 11, and 22 according to the Roman 
edition, noting the slight London variants. 

The Roman edition was widely diffused in Egypt 
by Latin missionaries, as can be seen from the nu¬ 
merous manuscripts of Coptic origin that derive 
from it. Of eleven identified Arabic manuscripts of 
this version, one (Paris, Arabic 2) comes from Iran, 
another is of unknown provenance (London, Or. 
8745), and nine come horn Egypt. The oldest of 
these was copied in 1754. These manuscripts are: 
(1) Mingana, Birmingham, Christ. Arab. 5 [103] 
(1754); (2) Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo, Bible 31 
(1778; Graf, no. 254; Simaykah, no. 101); (3) Coptic 
Patriarchate, Cairo, Bible 42 (1782; Graf, no. 221; 
Simaykah, no. 106); (4) Coptic Patriarchate. Cairo, 
Bible 48 (1784; Graf, no. 218; Simaykah, no. 115); 
(5) Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo, Bible 43 (1786; Graf, 
no. 215; Simaykah, no. 117); (6) Coptic Museum, 
Cairo, Bible 87 (eighteenth century; Graf, no. 670; 
Simaykah, no. 41); (7) Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo, 
Bible 41 (1872; Graf, no. 233; Simaykah, no. 187); 
(8) Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo, Bible 36 (nineteenth 
century; Graf, no. 224; Simaykah, no. 167); and (9) 
Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo, Bible 29 (nineteenth 
century; Graf, no. 239; Simaykah, no. 35). 

Version by Raphael TGklil. The fifth version was 
made by Rufa’ll al-Tukhi. 

It is commonly stated that his translation was 
made from the Latin Vulgate (see, c.g., Graf, 1944, 
Vol. 1, pp. 97-98, and the accompanying bibliogra¬ 
phy). However, a careful examination of his transla¬ 
tion shows that it is a revision of the 1671 Roman 
edition; he improved the language and style of this 
edition and made slight modifications in order to 
bring the text into line with the Vulgate when diver¬ 
gences arose. 

Graf and Knutsson mention no manuscripts of 
this version. However, it is quite probable that 
some of the manuscripts mentioned above belong 
to this version on account of the resemblance of 
the two texts. 

Modern Versions. In the modern period, the 
1864 version of the American Protestant Mission of 
Beirut, made by Cornelius van Dyck and his collab¬ 
orators, has been widely diffused among the Coptic 
Orthodox. The 1876 Beirut edition of the Jesuits 
was less widely diffused, and was known primarily 
in Coptic Catholic circles. These two editions are 
translated from the Hebrew text. At present there is 
no edition proper to the Copts themselves. 


The book of Nehemiah is not always found in the 
Arabic manuscripts of the Copts. What is more, 
when it is found, it is most frequently an integral 
part of the canonical book of Ezra (Esdras), to 
which it forms a kind of appendix introduced by 
the words: "Discourse of Nehemiah son of Hala- 
qiyya," as is also the case in Hebrew. Thus, manu¬ 
script catalogs often omit it. 

For the same reason, it is not mentioned explicit¬ 
ly in the list of the canon of the Bible found in the 
fifty-fifth of the fifty-six Canons of the Apostles, 
translated into Arabic by the Copts around the tenth 
century, nor in chapter 6 of the Lamp oj the Dark¬ 
ness by Ibn Kabar, composed around 1320. 

Ignoring the editions that appeared alter the be¬ 
ginning of the nineteenth century, which were dif¬ 
fused among the Copts, only three different ver¬ 
sions of this book are in use among the Copts. 

The Version of the Polyglot Bibles. The text of 
the polyglot Bibles of Paris (1629-1645) and of 
London (1647) would appear to derive from a man¬ 
uscript in the National Library, Paris (Arabic 1, fols. 
205v-209v Egypt, 1585; Troupeau’s catalog poses a 
problem here). Unlike the book of Ezra, the text 
here is identical with that of the manuscript in the 
Bodleian Library, Oxford (251; fols. 82r-105r cop¬ 
ied in Cairo in 1335). 

The two manuscripts of the Coptic Patriarchate, 
Cairo, already mentioned for the book of Ezra (Bi¬ 
ble 75, Egypt, 1691, and Theology 286, Egypt, eight¬ 
eenth century) also contain the text of Nehemiah, 
probably in the same version, unless here, too, we 
find a revision of this version. By contrast, a manu¬ 
script in the British Library, London (Or. 1326) 
does not seem to contain the text of Nehemiah. 

According to Emil Roediger (1829, pp. 106-110), 
the text of Nehemiah was translated from two 
different sources: Nehemiah 1:1-9:27, or the Arabic 
versions, appear to have been translated from the 
Hebrew by a Jew between the tenth and thirteenth 
centuries, and subsequently interpolated by a Chris¬ 
tian on the basis of the Syriac of the Peshitta; the 
translation of the sections from Nehemiah 9:28 to 
the end appeal's to come from the Syriac around 
the fourteenth century. However, the existence of 
this text in the Oxford manuscript, as copied in 
Cairo in 1335, suggests an earlier date mainly be¬ 
cause of copyist errors. 

The 1671 Propaganda Edition. After Albert Vac- 
cari's study, it is generally accepted that the Arabic 
text of the Bible published at Rome in 1671 by the 
Congregatio de Propaganda Fide was based princi- 



pally (for the Old Testament) on Vatican Arabic 
468. This manuscript was completed by the Mef- 
chitc priest Dawud, son of the priest Tadurus, son 
of the priest Wahbah, of the village of Bturrdn in 
the province of Tripoli in Syria, in 1578-1579. The 
commission came from Giambattista Eliano, who 
was planning the publication of an Arabic Bible 
(see the colophons of fols. 489v-90r given on pi. V 
of Vaccari’s article). 

When speaking of the text of Ezra and Nehemiah 
contained in this manuscript. Vaccari (1925. p. 89. 
last sec.) states it is "identical to the Polyglot ver¬ 
sion." In actual fact, if the Propaganda text follows 
the Vatican Arabic 468 at this point, Vaccari's state¬ 
ment must be corrected, since the text differs con¬ 
siderably from the polyglot version. 

According to Graf (1944, Vol. 1, p. 112, sec. 6), 
this text would appear to be found in ten manu¬ 
scripts of the Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo, copied be¬ 
tween 1691 and 1833. 

Version of Raphael TOkh! (1752). As concerns 
this version and its use among the Copts, all the 
remarks made concerning Ezra can also be applied 
to Nehemiah. 


It is very difficult to find out which Arabic ver¬ 
sions of the Pentateuch were circulated among the 
Copts, because the catalogs almost never indicate 
where the manuscripts came from, and because 
studies on the versions of the Bible do not discuss 
this question. The present section is limited strictly 
to those manuscripts that arc of Coptic provenance; 
they constitute the source of information here. 

The Coptic church has been conversant with at 
least eight different Arabic translations of the Penta¬ 
teuch. Almost all of these came from other commu¬ 
nities, and have received varying degrees of Coptic 
influence. These versions are translations from He¬ 
brew, Greek, Coptic, Syriac, and Latin. 

Version from the Hebrew. The first version was 
made directly from the Hebrew Masoretic text, by 
Sa'Id ibn Yusuf al-Fayyumi, an Egyptian Jew (b. c. 
892 and d. at Surah, Iraq, in 942). He is considered 
to be the founder of medieval Jewish exegesis. He 
is sometimes referred to in the West as the Gaon 

His translation occasionally has the character of a 
paraphrase, as he employed certain periphrastic ex¬ 
pressions in order to clarify the text; he also re¬ 
translated the geographical names, transposed cer¬ 
tain expressions, and avoided anthropomorphisms. 
This permitted him to avoid composing a commen¬ 

tary on the text. He himself explained his method in 
the introduction to the Pentateuch, published in 
1893 by J. D6renbourg (Vol. 1, pp. 1-4), translated 
into German and discussed by W. Engclkemper in 
1897 and 1901. 

This version was first published in Hebrew char¬ 
acters, as was Derenbourg's edition, at Constantino¬ 
ple in 1546. It was republished in the two polyglot 
Bibles of Paris and London. In 1867, P. de Lagarde 
published a new edition of the text of Genesis and 
Exodus, based on the oldest known manuscript, 
that of Warner, Leiden, 377 (1239-1240). 

The Copt Fadlallah ibn Tadrus ibn Yusuf ibn Fad- 
lallah revised the text in the sixteenth century in 
order to integrate it into the Coptic tradition; he 
also composed a new introduction. Nevertheless, 
this version did not acquire a really official charac¬ 
ter in the Coptic church, although it was the most 
widely diffused. It is, however, to be found in the 
margins of certain Coptic-Arabic liturgical manu¬ 
scripts, as was shown by Joseph Francis Rhode 
(1921, pp. 94-97). 

Manuscripts of this version are numerous and all 
of Coptic origin. They are listed unsystematically in 
Graf (1944, Vol. 1, pp. 102-103; here the manu¬ 
script of the Coptic Patriarchate dated 1332 should 
be deleted, as it is not of this version). The oldest 
manuscripts (thirteenth to fourteenth century) are, 
in chronological order: (1) Warner, Leiden, 377 
(Oriental 2365; 1239-1240; contains only Genesis 
and Exodus); (2) Laurentiana, Florence, Oriental 
112 (1245-1246); (3) National Library, Paris, Arabe 
4 (thirteenth century); (4) private collection, Cairo 
(1355; manuscript mentioned by Louis Cheikho, 
Mashriq 21 [1923]: 141-42); (5) Vatican Library, 
Borgia Arabic 129 (fourteenth century); (6) British 
Library, London, Christian Arabic 1 (fourteenth 
century); (7) Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo. Bible 22 
(fourteenth century; Graf, no. 234, Simaykah, no. 
2); (8) Vatican Library, Arabic 2 (fifteenth centuiy); 
(9) National Library, Paris, Arabe 1 (1584-1585; by 
the Muslim ‘Abd Rabbih ibn Muhammad al- 
Sha'rani; this manuscript was the basis for the Paris 
polyglot Bible edition of the Arabic version [1629- 
1645]); and (10) Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo, Bible 
32 (1585, by the same Muslim copyist; Graf, no. 
235; Simaykah, no. 23; concerning the identity of 
the copyist, see Samir, 1981. pp. 99-101). 

Versions from the Septuagint. Several Arabic 
versions in use among the Copts derive directly 
from the Septuagint. 

The first version was made on an ancient parch¬ 
ment written in characters called ypa(f>r] ( graphe ). 
This text is attested in the Coptic Patriarchate, 


Cairo (Bible 17; transcribed in 1381; Graf, no. 241; 
Simaykah, no. 17). 

A second version is contained in a manuscript in 
the National Library, Paris (Arabic 15; transcribed 
in Egypt in the fourteenth century [and not in the 
eleventh century, as in Slane, Rhode, Graf, etc.]; 
Graf, 1944, Vol. 1, p. 103, no. 2a). 

A third version, also based on the Septuagint, is 
attested from a manuscript in the Bodleian Library, 
Oxford (Huntington 424; catalog: Uri, Christian Ara¬ 
bic, no. 8) in its more recent part (fols. 1-14 and 
403-08; Gn. 1-5 and l)t. 32:43-34:12). This text of 
Genesis is reproduced in Rhode (pp. 50*-57*; Graf, 
1944, vol. I, p. 103, no. 2b). 

A fourth version from the Greek, without an in¬ 
termediate version, is widely attested in the manu¬ 
scripts of Coptic origin, including bilingual Coptic 
and Arabic manuscripts (Graf 1944, vol. I, pp. 103— 
104). Among them are the following: (1) Vatican 
Library, Coptic I (Coptic, tenth-eleventh century 
Arabic, thirteenth-fourteenth century); (2) Bodleian 
Library, Oxford, Laud Oriental 272 (catalog: Uri, 
Christian Arabic, no. I; copied by the monk TOMA IBN 
ALSA’lGH in 1347); (3) National Library, Paris, Arabe 
12 (1353); (4) Paris, Coptic 1 (bilingual: Bohairic 
and Arabic; copied in 1356-1358); (5) British Li¬ 
brary, London, Or. 422 (Crum, Coptic, no. 712; 
1393); (6) Vatican Library, Coptic 2-4 (bilingual: 
Bohairic and Arabic; fourteenth century; Arabic 
text revised on the basis of the Coptic); and (7) 
Bodleian Library, Oxford, Huntington 33 (Uri, Cop¬ 
tic, no. 1; 1674, probably copied from the Paris 
Coptic 1). 

Version from the Bohairic Coptic. Curiously 
enough, this version, the only one made from the 
Coptic (as far as one can state with certainty), is 
unknown, and is difficult to distinguish from the 
fourth version from the Greek. The oldest manu¬ 
script would appear to be in Cambridge (Add. 3289, 
dated 1337-1338; Graf, 1944, p. 104, sec. 2). 

Versions from the Syriac. The most diffused ver¬ 
sion of those based on the Syriac is based on the 
text of the Peshitta. It was originally in use among 
the Melchites of Egypt. It would seem that it was 
the philo-Melchite Marqus ibn Qanbar, the blind 
priest of Damietta at the end of the twelfth century, 
who introduced it into the usage of the Coptic 
church. This version is generally connected with 
his commentary on the Pentateuch (Graf, 1947, pp. 
329-32). We know' a large number of manuscripts 
of this version, including some in garshuni (special 
script). The oldest of them are of Coptic origin. The 
manuscripts of the thirteenth and fourteenth cen¬ 

turies (Graf, 1944, pp. 105-106) in chronological 
order are: (I) National Library, Paris, Arabe 16 
(1238); (2) Vatican Library, Arabic 33 (late thir¬ 
teenth century); (3) Paris, Arabe 10 (1330); (4) Pa¬ 
ris, Arabe 11 (1331); (5) Vatican Library, Arabic 606 
(1344); and (6) Bodleian Library* Oxford, Pococke 
219 (Uri, Christian Arabic 4; fourteenth century?). 

Another version of Syriac origin, based on the 
tenth-century Syro-liexapla and translated by the 
Melchite al-Harith ibn Sinan ibn Sunbat, was well- 
known among the Copts. It made its appearance in 
the Coptic church no later than the beginning of 
the thirteenth century probably by way of the Mel- 
chiles. Abu al-Barakat ibn Kabar (d. 1324) mentions 
it in chap. 6 of his Lamp uj Darkness. We know 
about ten manuscripts of this version (Graf, 1944, 
Vol. 1, pp. 107-108), including four old manu¬ 
scripts copied by Copts: (I) Sinai Arabic 10 (manu¬ 
script transcribed at the Dayr Anba Bula [Coptic 
monastery) in 1233-1234; of note is fol. 205v, an 
addition to the Decalogue [Dt. 5:1-22], following 
the Samaritan Torah); (2) Vatican Library, Arabic 1 
(thirteenth century, completed in 1329); (3) Coptic 
Patriarchate, Cairo, Bible 27 (Graf, no. 274; Simay¬ 
kah, no. Ill; 1330); and (4) National Library, Paris, 
Arabe 14 (fourteenth century, though Graf attri¬ 
butes it to the sixteenth century). 

Version from the Latin Vulgate. Lasl and much 
later—in the eighteenth century—an Arabic ver¬ 
sion based on the Latin Vulgate appeared among 
the Coptic community. This follows the Roman (Ar¬ 
abic) edition of 1671. It is probable that RulcTlI 
al-Tukhl was responsible for this, for two of the 
Vatican manuscripts are written in his hand. The 
manuscripts of Coptic origin are: (1) Vatican Li¬ 
brary, Borgia, Arabic 48 (eighteenth century; by Ru- 
fa’il al-Tukhl); (2) Vatican Library, Borgia, Arabic 
154 (1776; by Rufa*Il al-Tukhi); (3) Coptic Patriar¬ 
chate, Cairo, Bible 48 (Graf, no. 218; Simaykah, no. 
115; 1784); (4) Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo, Bible 31 
(Graf no. 254; Simaykah, no. 101; eighteenth centu¬ 
ry); and (5) Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo, Bible 41 
(Graf, no. 233; Simaykah, no. 187; 1872). 

Unidentified Versions. Other manuscripts of 
Coptic origin present a text that has not been suffi¬ 
ciently described. Of interest in particular is the 
oldest of these, National Library, Paris, Arabic 15 
(fourteenth—not eleventh—centuiy). Two others 
are held by the Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo: Bible 30 
(Graf, no. 253; Simaykah, no. 15; fourteenth centu¬ 
ry, pre-1378) and Bible 21 (Graf, no. 242; Simaykah, 
no. 25; 1587; giving the text side-by-side with the 
original Hebrew). 



This attempt to compile an inventory throws into 
strong relief the characteristic features of translated 
Arabic literature of the Copts: its considerable rich¬ 
ness, owing principally to the Copts' openness to all 
the traditions of the Christian East (and even of the 
West), and evidence of a certain eclectic tendency. 


The small book of Ruth has not been much stud¬ 
ied, and the ten lines Graf devotes to it (1944) are 
teeming with errors. In the absence of a thorough 
study, at least a specimen of each of the versions 
known should be published, by which the manu¬ 
scripts can be classified. 

The book of Ruth apparently has not always been 
in use among the Copts. A manuscript copied in 
Egypt in 1584-1585 (Paris, Arabe 1), the usual 
model of the polyglot Bibles, omits it. despite Graf's 
affirmation to the contrary. He also states that a 
Coptic manuscript from the end of the seventeenth 
century (Bodleian Library, Oxford, 270; Nicole, 
Christian Arabic 2) contains Ruth; it does not. 

However, the oldest known manuscripts —those 
of the fourteenth century—do give the text. Abu 
al-Barakat ibn Kabar, in chapter 6 of Lamp of Dark¬ 
ness, mentions it twice, once according to the list 
in the fifty-fifth of the fifty-six Canons of the Apostles 
(ed. Samir, 1971, p. 210), and on another occasion 
(p. 226). 

The place of the book of Ruth in the Bible also 
varies. Sometimes it follows Judges, as in the Septu- 
agint, and sometimes it is found after the books of 
Kings. This explains why the text is not found in 
some sources, such as in the National Library, Pa¬ 
ris, Arabe 22 (Egypt, 1344), the Coptic Patriarchate, 
Cairo, Bible 57 (Egypt, fourteenth-fifteenth centur¬ 
ies; Graf, no. 273; Simaykah, no. 61), or the Bodlei¬ 
an Library, Oxford, 270 (Egypt, end of the seven¬ 
teenth centuiy). These three manuscripts end with 
the books of Kings. 

It is not known whether the text of Ruth pub¬ 
lished in the polyglot Bibles is of Coptic origin, as 
is the case for the other biblical books. 

The Copts were familiar with at least four differ¬ 
ent Arabic versions of the book of Ruth, apart from 
those made after the second half of the nineteenth 
centuiy. The first version appears to be translated 
from the Syriac. The most ancient witness is in the 
Vatican Library, Arabic 449 (fols. 57r-60v; Egypt; 
1335). In this manuscript, Ruth follows Judges. The 
second version appears to be translated from the 
Septuagint, either directly from the Greek, or 

through a Coptic intermediary. It is found in the 
National Library, Paris, Arabic 23 (fols. 132r-34r; 
Egypt, fourteenth centuiy), in which it follows the 
"Second Book of Kings,” which corresponds to the 
two books of Kings, and precedes the book of Esth¬ 
er. The third version is that attested in the 1671 
Roman edition. It gives a mixed text, based princi¬ 
pally on the Vatican Library, Arabic 468 (of Syrian 
provenance, translated from the Peshitta, with 
Greek influences, but revised on the basis of the 
Roman Casanatensc 2108). At this point Roma 
Casanatense 2108 was copied from the Vatican Li¬ 
brary. Arabic 449, the manuscript of the first ver¬ 
sion, and of the Latin Vulgate. Graf gives a list of 
numerous manuscripts in Cairo that appear to have 
been copied from this edition. The fourth version is 
that made by Rufa’il al-Tukhl and published in 
Rome in 1752. According to Graf, this is a recasting 
of the third version. However, the incipit shows it is 
considerably different, and also that it differs from 
the text of the polyglot Bibles. Scholars do not 
know if it was used as a model for Coptic manu¬ 
scripts. The incipit reads: "Lamma kdnat tatawalld 
al-qudat, fa-kuna fi ayydm ahad al-qudat jiV ala al- 
ard, fa-intalaqa min Bay/ Lahm Yahiuld rajul wa- 
imra'atnh wa-ibnayh [sic] U-yatagharrab fi halad Mu- 
wab" (vol. 1, p. 336). 

Finally, many manuscripts are still completely 
unknown. Other versions may emerge, as was the 
case for the book of Judges. 


Assemani, G. S. Della ttazione dei Copti e della vali¬ 
dity del Sacramento di Giuseppe Simonio Asseman 
composta neWanno 1733 e conservata in un co¬ 
dice vaticuno. Scriptorum veterum nova collectio 
e vaticanus codicibus 5, pp. 171-237, ed. A. Mai. 
Rome. 1825-1838. 

Atiya, A. S., and Joseph Nessim Youssef. Catalogue 
Raisonne of the Mount Sinai Arabic Manuscripts 
(in Arabic). Alexandria, 1970. 

Browne, E. G. A Catalogue of the Persian Manu¬ 
scripts in the Library of the University of Cam¬ 
bridge. Cambridge, 1896. 

Cheiko, L. Trois trades anciens de polemique et de 
theologic chretiennes, ed. Ilyas Baterikh. Text and 
added title page in Arabic. "Tires dc la Revue 
al-Machriq.” Beirut, 1923. 

Crum, W. E. Catalogue of the Coptic Manuscripts in 
the British Museum. London, 1905. 

Engelkemper, W. Theses controversae qua$ una 
cum commentatione theologica de Saediae gaonis, 
vita, bibliorum versione, hermeneutica. . . . Leip¬ 
zig, 1897. 



Graf, G. Catalogue de manuscrits arabes chretiens 
conserves au Caire. Studi c Tesli 134. Vatican 
City, 1934. 

Knutsson, B. Studies in the Text and Language of 
Three Syriac-A rabic Versions of the Book of Jud- 
icum with Special Reference to the Middle Arabic 
Elements. Leiden, 1974. 

Lagarde, P. A. de. Der Pentateuch koptisch. l^ipzig, 

Rhode, J. F. The Arabic Versions of the Pentateuch 
in the Church of Egypt. Saint Louis, Mo., 1921. 

Rieu, C. Supplement to the Catalogue of the Arabic 
Manuscripts in the British Museum. London, 1894. 

Roediger, E. De origine et indale arabica librorum 
Veteris Testamenti historicorurn interpretationes. 
Halle, 1829. 

Sa'adia ben Joseph. Oeuvres completes de r. Saedia 
ben losef al-Fayyouml, ed. J. Dercnbourg, 5 vols. 
Paris, 1893-1899. 

Samir, K. "Trois versions arabes du Livre des 
Juges. Reflexions critiques sur un livre recent.” 
Oriens Christianus 65 (1981):87-101. 

Slanc, W. McGuckin baron de. Catalogue des manu¬ 
scrits arabes de la Biblioth&que nationale. Paris, 

Troupeau, G., ed. Catalogue des manuscrits arabes 
[de la Bibliotheque nationale de Paris]. Manu¬ 
scrits chretiens, Vol. 1. Paris, 1972; Vol. 2. Paris, 

- Catalogue des manuscrits arabes fde la Bib¬ 
liotheque Nationale de Paris], 2 vols. Paris, 1972— 

Uri, J. Bibliothecae Bodlianae codicum manuscript- 
orum orientalium, videlicet hebruicorum, chalda- 
icorum, syriacorum, aethiopicorum, arabicorum, 
persicorum, copticorum catalogus. Oxford, 1787. 

Vaccari, A. "Un codice carsciunico della Casana- 
tense e la Bibbia araba del 1671." Biblica 4 

_"Una Bibbia araba per il primo gesuita ve- 

nuto in Libano." Melanges de I'Vniversite Saint- 
Joseph 10 (1925):77-104. 

Walton, B. Dissertatio in qua de linguis orienlalibus 
hebraica, chaldaica, samaritana, svriace, arabica. 
persic a, aethiopica, annena, copta . ct de text urn et 
versionum quae in . . . polyglottis Bibliis lahentur 
. . . authoritateet usu . . . disseritur. Accessit J. Wo- 
weri syntagma de graeca et latina Bibliorum int- 
erpretatione. Deventer, Holland, 1658. Samir, S.J. 

TIONS OF. The earliest of the Coptic transla¬ 
tions of the Old Testament, like those of the New 
Testament, remain obscure. Christianity first took 
root in Alexandria, a city predominantly inhabited 

by Greeks, who had no need of a translation of the 
Greek Bible (the Old Testament in the form of the 
Scptuagint). It was only when the Christian mission 
extended inland, and thus to the lower levels of the 
population, outside the world of Greek language 
and education, that the need arose for a translation 
of the Holy Scriptures into the native Egyptian lan¬ 
guage. No information, and no manuscript evi¬ 
dence, has survived from this period, which began 
at the latest at the start of the second century. The 
oldest indirect witness, Athanasius' Life of Antony, 
brings us to the period about 270. During the 
church service, the young Antony heard readings 
from the Gospel of Matthew, which caused him to 
give up his possessions and devote himself to the 
ascetic following of Jesus. Since Antony, as the Life 
frequently emphasizes, knew only Coptic and no 
Greek, we may conclude that by the second half of 
the third century the Gospels had been translated 
into Coptic. There is nothing to suggest a merely 
oral translation of the passages read (after the fash¬ 
ion of the Targums). It is legitimate to deduce from 
the Gospels the existence of the Old Testament in 
Coptic or at least pails of it (the Psalter and the 
Prophets), since the Coptic church from the begin¬ 
ning considered both Old and New Testaments as a 
unity and accordingly translated them for use in 
public worship. The oldest extant Coptic Bible man¬ 
uscript, from the end of the third century, is an 
archaic translation of Proverbs in the dialect desig¬ 
nated as Proto-Sahidic (Papyrus Bodmer VI). 

The fourth century saw the flowering of the Cop¬ 
tic Bible translations, first in Sahidic, the classical 
literary language of Coptic. The translation of the 
Old Testament was largely or even entirely com¬ 
pleted. We have to assume this process took several 
decades; so enormous a task could not be accom¬ 
plished at one stroke, especially since there were 
no forerunners or convenient aids. The following 
books of the Old Testament are attested in fourth- 
century manuscripts: Genesis (fragments in the 
boarding of Nag Hammadi Codex VII), Exodus (Pa¬ 
pyrus Bodmer XVI), Deuteronomy (Papyrus Bod¬ 
mer XVIII and British Library, Or. 7594, in the 
last-named papyrus with Jonah and Acts), Joshua 
(Papyrus Bodmer XXI), Jeremiah with Baruch (Pa¬ 
pyrus Bodmer XXII), Isaiah (Papyrus Bodmer 
XXIII). Curiously, the oldest codex of the most- 
used book in the Coptic Bible, the Psalter, is no 
earlier than about 400 (Berlin Psalter, ed. A. 
Rahlfs). The manuscript tradition is supplemented 
by the Old Testament citations in the original Cop¬ 
tic literature (Pachomius and his disciples), which 
extend over practically the whole Old Testament. 



The increase in translation activity is closely con¬ 
nected with the development of the Coptic monas¬ 
teries. In accordance with the rules of Paehomius, a 
knowledge of reading (and presumably also of writ¬ 
ing) as well as the learning by heart of portions of 
scripture was already obligatory for candidates and 
novices, and all the more for the monks ( Praecepta. 
49, 130, 139, 140). Thus the monasteries became 
places for the fostering of Coptic literature, includ¬ 
ing the biblical texts, as is shown by the remains of 
the once extensive monastery libraries (e.g., the 
White Monastery at Suhaj in Upper Egypt, the Ham¬ 
uli monastery in the Fayyum, the monastery of Jer- 
emias at Saqqara, and the monastery of Macarius in 
the Nitrian Desen). 

The Coptic translation of the Bible is no more 
uniform than Coptic itself; it is characterized by a 
variety of dialects, the examples of which vary in 
their age, and in origin in terms of both the place 
and the textual basis of the translation. Among the 
literary dialects of Coptic—Akhmimic, Lycopolitan 
(also called Subakhmimic), Middle Egyptian, Fay- 
yumic, Sahidic, and Bohairic (we may here disre¬ 
gard the further specification that is gaining ground 
in the study of the Coptic dialects)—only the Lyco¬ 
politan dialect has (so far) yielded no Old Testa¬ 
ment translations. Only the Sahidic (or, simplified, 
the Upper Egyptian) and the Bohairic (simplified, 
the Lower Egyptian) attained more than regional 
diffusion. In the regional or local dialects only indi¬ 
vidual books are attested (often only fragmentarily), 
but it is not known how much of the stock that 
once existed has been lost. There was a complete 
Old Testament translation only in Sahidic, but it 
has not survived in its entirety. The tradition varies 
from book to book, and ranges from multiple attes¬ 
tation of the same document to mere fragments. 
There is no standard edition comparable with Hor¬ 
ner's New Testament. 

From the other literary dialects the following Old 
Testament books have survived: Akhmimic— 
Genesis (frag.), Exodus (frag.), Proverbs (complete), 
Minor Prophets (almost complete), Sirach (frag.), 
Daniel (frag.), 2 Maccabees (frag.), Psalms (a frag¬ 
ment is extant that presents problems with regard 
to dialectal classification, representing perhaps a 
preliminary stage of Lycopolitan); Middle Egyptian 
—Genesis (frag.), Psalter (unpublished manuscript 
in the Coptic Museum in Old Cairo), Job (frag.), 
Ecclesiastes (fragmentary codex Papyrus Michigan 
3520, unpublished), indirectly Hosea and Amos 
through a Greco-Coptic glossary (ed. Thompson and 
Bell, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 11 [1925]: 
241-46); Fayyumic—Exodus, Numbers, Psalms, 

Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel with Susanna (all in frag¬ 
ments); Song of Solomon, Lamentations, and Eccle¬ 
siastes in the bilingual Papyrus Hamburg 1 (Greek 
and Old Fayyumic). It should be noted that in the 
older literature the designations for the Fayyumic 
and Middle Egyptian dialects (and Bible transla¬ 
tions) were used indiscriminately; these are, howev¬ 
er, clearly distinct dialects. 

Although from the eleventh century on, Bohairic 
replaced Sahidic as the literary language and the 
official language of the church throughout Egypt, 
the Old Testament was not completely translated 
into this dialect. The following books were com¬ 
pletely translated into Bohairic: the Pentateuch, 
Psalms, Job, the Minor Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah 
(including Lamentations, Baruch, and Epistle of 
Jeremiah), Ezekiel, and Daniel. Proverbs was partly 
translated. The following are extant only in the 
form of liturgical pericopes: Joshua, Judges, 1-4 
Kingdoms, 1-2 Chronicles, Wisdom of Solomon, 
and Sirach. Not attested are Ruth, Ezra, Nehemiah, 
Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Esther, Judith, To- 
bit, and 1-2 Maccabees. 

The utilization of the Coptic versions for the tex¬ 
tual history and textual criticism of the Old Testa¬ 
ment presents two major problems: (1) the relation 
to the Greek original; and (2) the relationships with¬ 
in the Coptic. Evaluation is considerably hindered 
by the fact that there is no critical edition and no 
concordance for any dialect. 

There is agreement on three points. First, the 
Coptic Bible translation is not based on the Hebrew 
Old Testament (like the Peshitta or the Vulgate) but 
on Greek models that largely represent the Septua- 
gint text (though not throughout). The range of the 
Coptic Old Testament follows the Alexandrian can¬ 
on, not the Masoretic Hebrew. Second, the Sahidic 
and Bohairic versions are separate translations 
from the Greek, independent of one another. Third, 
the Akhmimic translation is a daughter or interline¬ 
ar version of the Sahidic. Inasmuch as it is based 
on a Coptic original, it has only indirect testimony 
value for the Greek text to be presupposed. 

The Middle Egyptian and Fayyumic Old Testa¬ 
ment fragments have not yet been investigated from 
the standpoint of text history. 

The Sahidic texts, notwithstanding all the vari¬ 
ants, show a remarkable stability from the fourth to 
the twelfth century. They were revised over time 
but never achieved a normative standard version. 
The two main types are represented by the texts of 
the White Monastery (DAYR ANUA SHINODAH) in Up¬ 
per Egypt and the Hamuli monaster}' in the Fay¬ 
yum. So far as there is agreement between these 



two main types, we can speak of a Sahidic consen¬ 

The main body of the Bohairic OKI Testament 
manuscripts begins in the ninth centuiy, but there 
are also some earlier fragments. The origin of the 
Bohairic version is closely bound up with the domi¬ 
nant role of the Nitrian monasteries from the mid¬ 
dle of the sixth centuiy, especially that of the mon¬ 
astery of Macarius as the seat of the Coptic 
patriarch. Papyrus Bodmer III (fourth centuiy), 
which in addition to the Gospel of John contains 
the opening chapters of Genesis (1:1-4:2), is a spe¬ 
cial case in terms both of the history of the text and 
of dialectal history. Ai a series of places that deviate 
horn the Bohairic standard, this text reflects Sahi- 
dic readings deriving from the Sahidic translation 
model. Papyrus Bodmer III therefore cannot (at 
least for the Old Testament) be assessed as a wit¬ 
ness to the original Bohairic text of the Bible (con¬ 
tra M. K. Peters, 1984). 

The Upper Egyptian version (Sahidic and Akhmi- 
mic) of the Minor Prophets is more closely related 
to the Hebrew than to the Septuagint text. This 
“hebraizing" tendency is not, as earlier assumed, to 
be traced back to a revision according to the He¬ 
brew text but goes back to a special Greek version, 
possibly the fifth column (Ouinta) of Origen's Uexa- 
pla; the oldest witness of this textual tradition is the 
leather scroll with the Greek Minor Prophets from 
the Wadi Murabba'at (50 b.c.-a.d. 50). 

The discoveries of texts in recent decades offer 
no support to confirm the theory of Paul Kahle 
(1954, Vol. 1) that in pre-Christian times the Sahi¬ 
dic dialect had already spread throughout Egypt as 
an "official language," and that its point of depar¬ 
ture was Alexandria. In the beginning there were 
various dialects and a plurality of Bible translations, 
which from about the seventh century were sup¬ 
planted or absorbed by the two main dialects. Sahi¬ 
dic and Bohairic. 

The texts were transmitted in Bible manuscripts, 
lectionarics or horologies, excerpts, and quotations. 
The Bible manuscripts contain, according to their 
size, one or more books of the Old Testament, oc¬ 
casionally only parts of a book (e.g., Papyrus Bod¬ 
mer XVI, XVIII), or even Old and New Testament 
writings in one and the same codex (e.g.. Papyrus 
Bodmer III; British Library, Or. 7594). There is no 
evidence for the whole Old Testament in a single 
codex (and likewise no "complete Bible”). Among 
the lectionarics, mixed books (with pericopes from 
the Old Testament and the New Testament) pre¬ 
dominate over those with only the Old Testament. 
The Coptic pericope system has not been investigat¬ 

ed, nor has the textual histoiy of the lectionary 
pericopes. For excerpts, clay or limestone shards 
were used, in addition to leaves of papyrus or 
parchment (later also of paper). These served for 
the most varied purposes, from writing exercises to 
amulets. The quotations, which are found in all 
kinds of Coptic literature, form an important sup¬ 
plement to the manuscript and lectionary tradition, 
but here variants conditioned by the context must 
be carefully distinguished from genuine textual var¬ 
iants. In Bible quotations in the Coptic translation 
literature, we have to consider whether the form of 
text in the original has influenced the citation in 
question or whether the Coptic biblical text already 
in existence was inserted. This relates both to trans¬ 
lations from Greek into Coptic and to translations 
within Coptic (Bohairic transpositions of Sahidic 

A special form of textual tradition is represented 
by the bilinguals, which appear in all forms of the 
transmission except for quotations. In the first mil¬ 
lennium this relates particularly to Greco-Sahidic 
bilinguals, and after about 1000 to Bohairic-Arabic 

In general the editing and explication of the Cop¬ 
tic Old Testament (in all the dialects) lags behind in 
comparison with the New Testament. The main 
tasks and problems for investigation are (I) collec¬ 
tion, arrangement, and classification of the textual 
witnesses; (2) critical editions of the texts and con¬ 
cordances based upon them; (3) the relations of the 
Coptic versions to the Septuagint; (4) textual rela¬ 
tionships within Coptic; (5) collection and examina¬ 
tion of the citations in the Coptic original and 
translation literature. Investigations into compara¬ 
tive philology in Greek and Coptic, and into the 
objective evaluation of the textual variants, are still 
in their beginnings; such questions can be brought 
nearer to a solution only within the context of the 
Greco-Coptic translation literature as a whole, in¬ 
cluding the New Testament. 


The editions of the text are distributed over more 
than 100 separate publications, many of them jour¬ 
nals. The most complete list of these publications is 
A. Vaschalde, “Ce qui a etc public des versions 
coptes de la Bible," Revue biblique, new series 16, 
28 (1919>:220—43, 513-31; 29 (1920):9I -106, 241- 
58; 30 (l921):237-46; 31 (1922):81-8, 234-58 (Sa¬ 
hidic); Le Museon 43 (1930):409-31 (Bohairic), 46 
(1933):299-306 (Fayyumic and Middle Egyptian), 
and 46 (1933):306-313 (Akhmimic/Subakhmimic). 
Vaschalde’s list is updated in W. C. Till, "Coptic 



Biblical Texts After Vaschalde's Lists," Bulletin oj 
the John Rylands Library 42 (1959-1960):220-40; 
and in P. Nagel, "Editioncn koptischer Bibeltexte 
seit Till 1960," Archiv fur Papyrusforschung 35 

The Coptic Old Testament texts of the Bodmer 
Papyri were published completely by R. Kasscr: 
Papyrus Bodmer III, evangile de Jean et Genese /- 
IV,2. CSCO 177-178. Proto-Bohairic, Dialect B4. 
Papyrus Bodmer VI, livre des Proverhes. CSCO 194- 
195. Proto-Sahidic, Dialect P. 

Papyrus Bodmer XVI, Exode 1.1-XV,21 en 
sahidique. Cologny/Geneva, 1961. 

Papyrus Bodmer XVIII, Deuteronome I,I-X,7 en sahi¬ 
dique. Cologny/Geneva, 1962. 

Papyrus Bodmer XXI, Josue VI, / 6-25, VII.6-XI.23, 
XII,1-2, 19, XXIII, 7. 15-XX/V.23 en sahidique. Co¬ 
logny/Geneva, 1963. Also in Kasser's L'evangile 
scion saint Jean et les versions copies de la Bible, 
pp. 90-167 (Neuchatel, 1966), together with the 
Chester Beatty manuscript inv. no. 1389, belong¬ 
ing to the same codex. 

Papyrus Bodmer XXII et Mississippi Coptic Codex II, 
Jeremie XL,3-LII,34, Lamentations, e pit re de Jere- 
mie, Baruch l,/-V,5 en sahidique. Cologny/ 
Geneva, 1964. 

Papyrus Bodmer XXIII, Esaie chap. 47,9 66,24 en 
sahidique. Cologny/Geneva, 1965. 

Editions of other Old Testament texts in Coptic 
include J. Drescher's handling of Codex M567 from 
the Pierponl Morgan Library in New York in The 
Coptic (Sahidic) Versions of Kingdoms I, II (Samuel 
I, II), CSCO 313-314; P. Nagel, "Aufgaben und 
Probleme einer kritischen Edition der koptisch-sa- 
hidischen Version der Septuaginta," in Acts o/ the 
Second International Congress lor Coptic Studies, 
pp. 215-24 (Rome 1985); M. K. H. Peters. A Critical 
Edition of the Coptic (Bohairic) Pentateuch, Vol. 5, 
Deuteronomy (Chico, Calif., 1983), Vol. 1. Genesis 
(Atlanta, Ga., 1985), Vol. 2, Exodus (Atlanta, Ga., 
1986); Septuagint and Cognate Studies 15, 19, and 
22; and P. Nagel, "Griechisch-koptische Bilinguen 
des Allen Testaments," in Graeco-Coptica, pp. 231 — 
57 (Halle, 1984). 

The following works deal with Coptic Bible ver¬ 
sions (within the framework of Coptic literature): 
Hallock, R. N. "The Coptic Old Testament." Ameri¬ 
can Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures 
49 (1932):325—35. 

Kahle, P. E. The Cairo Geniza, 2nd ed. Oxford, 
1959. German ed., Die Kairoer Genisa. Berlin, 

Kahle, P. E., Jr. Bala'izah, 2 vols., esp. Vol. 1, pp. 
263ff. London, 1954. 

Kasser, R. "Les dialectes copies et les versions 
coptes bibliques." Bib lie a 46 (1965):287—310. 

-"Petites rectifications a propos de I'histoire 

des versions coptes de la Bible." Biblica 61 

Lefort, L. T. "Litterature bohairique.” l.e Museon 44 
(1931):! 15-135. 

Steindorff, G. "Bemerkungen Uber die Anfangc der 
koptischen Sprache und Lileratur." In Coptic 
Studies in Honor of W. E. Crum. Boston, 1950. 
For studies of the various manuscripts, see A. 
Hebbelynck, "Les manuscrits coptes-sahidiques du 
Monastere Blanc: Recherches sur les fragments 
complementaires de la Collection Borgia," Le 
Museon n.s. 12 (1911):91 -153, and n.s. 13 

(1912):275—362; and P. Nagel, "Sludien zur Texl- 
uberliefenmg des sahidischcn Allen Testaments. 
Teil 1: Der Stand der Wiederherstellung der alttest- 
amentlichen Kodizen der Sammlung Borgia,” Zeit- 
schri/t /Ur Agyptische Sprache 110 (1983):51 —74, 
and "Teil IB," HI (1984): 137-64. 

The following works discuss the history' of the 
text and/or textual criticism (of individual books of 
the Old Testament): 

Barthelemy, D. Les devanciers d'Aquila. Leiden, 
1963. Important for the preliminary stages of the 
Akhmimic version of the Minor Prophets. 

Bohlig, A. Untersuchungen uber die koptischen Pro- 
verbientexte. Berlin, 1936. 

Diebner, B. J. "Die biblischen Texte des Hamburger 
Papyrus Bilinguis 1 (Cant., Lam., Co., Eccl. Gr. et 
Co.) in ihrem Verhaltnis zum Text der Septuagin¬ 
ta, besonders des Kodex B (Vat. Gr. 1209)." In 
Acts of the Second International Congress of Cop¬ 
tic Studies. Rome, 1985. 

Dieu, L. "Les Mss. grecs des livres de Samuel, essai 
de classification." Le Museon 34 (1921): 17-60. 
Discusses the relation of MS M567 to the Greek 
textual tradition. 

-"Le texte copte-sahidique des livres de Sam¬ 
uel." Le Museon 59 (1946):445-452. 

Grossouw, W. The Coptic Versions of the Minor 
Prophets. Monumenta Biblica et Ecclesiastica 3. 
Rome, 1938. 

Nagel, P. "Papyrus Bodmer XVI und die 
achmimische Version des Buches Exodus." Agypt- 
en und Altes Testament 14 (1988):94— 152. 

Payne, J. B. "The Sahidic Coptic Text of I Samuel." 

Journal of Biblical Literature 72 (1953):51 —62. 
Peters, M. K. H. An Analysis of the Textual Charac¬ 
ter of the Bohairic of Deuteronomy. SBL Septua¬ 
gint and Cognate Studies 9. Missoula, Mont., 

__ “The Textual Affiliations of Genesis 1:1-4:2 

According to Papyrus Bodmer III." In De Septua¬ 
ginta. Studies in Honour of J. W . Wevers. Missis¬ 
sauga, Ont., 1984. 

Rahlfs, A. Septuaginla-Studien Heft 2: Der Text des 
Septuaginla-Psalters. Gottingen, 1907. 

Seidel, B. "Textgestalt und Textiiberlieferung des 
koptisch-sahidischen Deuteronomiums." Disserta¬ 
tion, University of Halle, 1986. 

Till, W. "Die koptischen Versionen der Sapientia 
Salomon is." Biblica 36 (1955):51 -70. 


Wevers, J. W. "The Textual Affinities of the Arabic 
Genesis of Bib. Nat. Arab 9." In Studies on the 
Ancient Palestinian World. Toronto Semitic Texts 
and Studies 2. Toronto, 1971. Includes the Bohai- 
ric version. 

Ziegler, J. "Beitrage zur koptischen Dodekaprophet- 
oniibersetzung." Biblica 25 (1944): 105-142. 

On comparative philology and translation equiva¬ 
lents, see H. J. Polotsky, "Modes grccs en copte?" 
in Coptic Studies in Honor of W. E. Crum (Boston 
1950), also in his Collected Papers (Jerusalem, 
1971); G. Mink, "Die koptischen Versionen des 
Neuen Testaments. Die sprachlichen Piobleme bei 
ihrer Bewertung fur die griechische Text- 
geschichte," in Die alten Vbersetzungen des Neuen 
Testaments, die KirchenvUterzitate und Lektionare, 
ed. K. Aland, Arbeiten zur Neutestamentlichen 
Textforschung 5 (Berlin and New York, 1972); and 
W.-P. Funk, "Bemerkungen zum Sprachvergleich 
Griechisch-Koptisch," in Graeco-Coptic (Halle, 

Peter Nagel 

O'LEARY, DE LACY EVANS (1872-1957), 
British Coptologist. He was a lecturer at Bristol 
University and published a number of Coptic litur¬ 
gical manuscripts, including The Coptic Theotokia 
(London, 1923), Fragmentary Coptic Hymns from the 
Wadi n'Natrun (London, 1924), and The Difnar (An- 
liphonarium) of the Coptic Church (2 vols., London, 
1926-1928); The Arabic Life of St. Pisen/ius (PO 22, 
1930); books about Christian and Coptic literature, 
among them Studies in the Apocryphal Gospels of 
Christ's Infancy (London, 1912) and The Saints of 
Egypt (London, 1937); and books about Egypt in the 
Arabic period, such as Short History of the Fatimid 
Khalifate (London and New York, 1923) and How 
Greek Science Passed to the Arabs (London, 1949). 

Martin Krause 

historian who wrote a work comprising twenty-two 
books that was dedicated to Emperor T heodosius 
II. It deals with the years 407-435 and is based on 
his own experiences (e.g., with the Blemmyes in 


Baldwin, B. "Olympiodoros of Thebes." L'anliquite 
classique 49 (1980):212-31. 

Moravcsik, G. Byzantino-Turcica, 2nd ed., Vol. 1, 
pp. 468-70. Berlin, 1958. 

Sirago, V. A. "Olimpiodoro di Tebe e la sua opera 
storica: Ricerche." In Ricerche storiche ed econo- 
tniche in memoria di Corrado Barbagallo, Vol. 2, 
pp. 1-25. Naples, 1970. 

Martin Krause 

OLYMPIUS, SAINT, a physician of Nicomedia 
(modem Izmir, Turkey), who was martyred in 
Egypt under Diocletian. His name is not found in 
the Copto-Arabic synaxarion, and since the Coptic 
texts that mention him are also fragmentary, the 
day he was commemorated is not known. Two Cop¬ 
tic texts concern him: his Passion, now in six frag¬ 
ments originating from the same codex, and an 
Encomium attributed to Moses of Tkow, now in 
three fragments originating from the same codex. 
All these fragments have been published by L. Le- 
fort (1950). 

A more or less complete reconstruction of the 
text of the Passion is possible because it is based on 
the text of the Passion of Saint PANTALEON, with a 
sole, although important, change in the final sec¬ 
tion. According to the Passion, Olympius was par¬ 
ticularly gifted at his studies in his youth; unknown 
to his father, he embraced Christianity at an early 
age. He became a physician and through the mirac¬ 
ulous cure of a blind man he converted his father, 
who then died. Olympius used all his inheritance to 
help the martyrs in the prisons. These charitable 
deeds led to his being reported by jealous col¬ 
leagues to the emperor Diocletian, who summoned 
him. The customary scene follows of altercation 
between the martyr and his persecutor, with vari¬ 
ous miracles and tortures. At that point (here the 
text departs from that of Pantaleon), Olympius is 
sent to Egypt to be killed at the hands of the prefect 

This is certainly a late composition, which may 
be attributed to the period of the CYCLES (seventh or 
eighth century). Although it cannot be directly as¬ 
signed to any particular cycle, there are points of 
contact between it and the Antiochene cycle of the 


Baumcister, T. Martyr Jnvictus. Der Martyrer als 
Sinnbild der Erlosung in der Legende und im Knit 
der friihen koptischen Kirche. MUnster, 1972. 
Lefort, L. T. "Un martyr inconnu: S. Olympios." Le 
Museon 63 (1950): 1-23. 

Tito Orlandi 



OMAR TOUSSOUN (1872-1944), prince of the 
Egyptian royal family, scholar, and philanthropist. 
There were few aspects of Egyptian progress that 
did not benefit from his support and his practical 
encouragement. He was particularly devoted to the 
interests of agriculture and agricultural workers. 
He was deeply interested in the history and the 
geography of Egypt in the nineteenth century, with 
special reference to the army and the fleet, as well 
as in relations with the Sudan. Moreover, he devot¬ 
ed much of his energy to Coptic history and archae¬ 
ology, especially to Coptic monasteries in the re¬ 
gion of Alexandria and Wadi al-Natriin. His writings 
in this area include Etude sur le Wadi Natroun, ses 
moines et ses couvents (Alexandria, 1931) and “Ccl- 
lia et ses couvents” (Me mo ires de la Societe royale 
d'arch&ologie d'Alexandrie, 1935). He was honorary 
1935 he and the Coptic patriarch chaired the com¬ 
mittee to support Ethiopia in its fight against Italian 
aggression by sending it a medical mission. 


Ghali, Mirrit Boutros. Obituary in Bulletin de la 
Societe d'archcologie copte 10 (1944):v- vi. 

Mirrit Boutros Giiai.i 

OMOPHORION. See Liturgical Vestments. 

ONOPHRIUS, SAINT, anchorite (feast day: 16 
Ba’unah). The figure of Saint Onophrius (in Arabic 
Abu Nufar) enjoyed the widest diffusion among the 
Egyptian desert fathers both in religious literature 
and in worship and art, both in Egypt and outside. 
His life was not transmitted independently, but in¬ 
serted with others into a pilgrimage narrative des¬ 
tined for edification, attributed to a certain Paph- 
nutius. Sometimes his text is preceded by a title 
presenting it as the life of Onophrius; this was cer¬ 
tainly added later. The life of Onophrius occupies 
only half of the story of Paphnutius. 

The Coptic recension is preserved in three com¬ 
plete manuscripts (Picrpont Morgan Library, New 
York, M580, pp. 1-36, from al-HAmuli in the Fay- 
yum, dated to A.D. 889-890, unpublished; British 
Library, London, Oriental 7027, fols. l-21v, from 
Idfu, 1004; and a Bohairic manuscript [the others 
are in SahidicJ, Vatican Library, Coptic 65, fols. 
99-120v, dated 978-979). Several fragments of co¬ 

dices have been preserved, among them two papy¬ 
rus leaves, one of the seventh century, formerly at 
I-ouvain but destroyed in a fire in 1940 (ed. Lefort, 
1945, pp. 97-100), the other of the sixth (?) century 
in Vienna (ed. Orlandi, 1974, pp. 158-61); the 
agreement in text between these two papyrus leaves 
and the other witnesses provides assurance of the 
antiquity of the story of Paphnutius. The White 
Monastery (DAYR ANBA SHINUDAH) at Suhaj possessed 
a codex containing this life; two leaves were pub¬ 
lished by Till (1935, Vol. 1, pp. 14-19); and the 
National Library, Paris, preserves several unpub¬ 
lished fragments of it. 

In Greek, the manuscripts are numerous but un¬ 
published except for the part of the Paphnutius sto¬ 
ry concerning Onophrius ( Acta sanctorum, 1969, 
pp. 527-33). A reworking is found in some collec¬ 
tions of APOPHTHEGMATA patrum. A summary is in¬ 
serted in the Greek synaxarion at 12 June, some¬ 
times at 10 or 11 June. 

In Latin several editions have been listed, of 
which three have been published. One makes 
Onophrius the son of a king of Persia, and adds 
several novelistic episodes. A notice was inserted in 
the Roman mailyrology by Baronius in 1584. 

Paphnutius’ place of origin is not indicated, but 
he entered very young into a cerwbium near Her- 
mopolis. Onophrius is struck by the talk of the 
elders of this monastery, which presents the hermit 
life as much superior to the cenobitic. Desiring to 
follow this more perfect way, he leaves his cell by 
night and goes off into the desert where he is guid¬ 
ed by an angel. At the end of six or seven miles, he 
finds a cave occupied by a hermit, who retains him 
for some days to instruct him, then leads him, after 
four days walking, to a hut near a date palm. The 
hermit remains with him at this spot for a month to 
initiate him, then leaves him alone. Every year, 
however, they meet again, until the day of the old 
man's death. 

Onophrius describes to Paphnutius his sufferings 
and his struggles, his sustenance miraculously 
brought by angels or supplied by the date palm, the 
communion that an angel gives him each Saturday 
and Sunday, and his visions. The story does not 
speak of any particular combats with the demons. 
At the beginning of his meeting with Paphnutius, 
Onophrius describes his life “walking in the moun¬ 
tains like wild beasts and living from the plants and 
the trees.” In fact, Paphnutius first finds Onophrius 
two or three miles from his hut. They go there 
together, and after a spiritual conversation, bread 
and water are mysteriously placed near them. The 



following morning, on 16 Ba'unah, Onophrius ex¬ 
presses his last wishes for his body and for his 
annual commemoration that is to he marked by an 
ofTering in his name and an agape. To those who 
shall take care of it he promises that the Lord "will 
lead them to the first hour of the thousand years.” 

Paphnutius expresses the desire to remain there 
alter the death of Onophrius, but the latter replies 
that his vocation is to make known the life of the 
desen hermits. Onophrius dies, and his soul is car¬ 
ried away by angels. Paphnutius lays his body in a 
cavity in the clifr and covers it with stones. At this 
moment the hut and the date palm crumble away, 
thus showing Paphnutius that it was not the will of 
God for him to stay in that place. At the end of his 
journey in the desert, he meets some monks, who 
transcribe his story and send it to Sect is to be de¬ 
posited in the church. 

This life is characteristic of a certain wandering 
hermitism, the witnesses to which are fairly numer¬ 
ous in Middle Egypt. It is significant that Onophrius 
should say to Paphnutius "return to Egypt,” for this 
indicates that he considered himself in exile in the 
desert, probably near the oasis of Oxyrhynchus. 

Saint Onophrius was venerated from very early 
times in Egypt, for papyri of the sixth and seventh 
centuries attest the existence of churches dedicated 
to his name at Lycopolis. 

It is very probably he who is represented on a 
fresco of DAYR apa JEREMIAH at Saqqara, beside a 
palm tree and clothed only in his long hair and 
beard, although the name is obliterated, along with 
MACARIUS THIi EGYPTIAN, Apollo of Bftwll, and proba¬ 
bly Phib. At DAYR anbA MAOAr he is also portrayed in 
the north side chapel. At Paras in the Sudan a fres¬ 
co from the end of the tenth century presents him 
near an oratory and a palm tree. 

In Byzantium, two oratories were consecrated to 
him, and his head was preserved in the church of 
Saint Akindinos. He appears in a painting from 
around the year 1100 in Cyprus. Several pictures in 
Italy, two of them from the fourteenth century, tes¬ 
tify to his popularity. The icons representing him 
are numerous throughout the entire Christian East. 


Antonini, L. "Le Chiese cristiane ncU’Egitto dal IV- 

IX secolo secondoi documenti dei papiri greci.” 

Aegyptus 20 (1940): 129-208. 

Budge, P-. A. W. Coptic Martyrdoms. London, 1914. 
Coquin, R.-G. "Le Synaxaire des copters." Analecta 

Bollandiana 96 (1978):351-65. 

Kirschbaum, J. Lexikon der christlichen Mono¬ 
graphic, Vol. 8. Rome and Freiburg im Breisgau, 

Lefort, L. T. "Fragments copies.” Le Museon 58 

Leroy, J. Les peintures des couvents du Ouadi Nat- 
roun. La peinture murale chez les Coptes 2, Cai¬ 
ro, 1982. 

Michalowski, K. Faras, centre artistique dc la Nubie 
chretienne. Leiden, 1966. 

Muhammad Ramzi. Al-Odmus al-Jughrafi, Vol. 1. 
Cairo, 1954. 

Orlandi, T. Papiri copti di contcnuto teologico. Vien¬ 
na, 1974. 

Sauget, G. M. "S. Onofrio, anacoreta in Tebaldc.” 
Biblioteca Sanctorum 9 (1987):! 187-97. 

Till, W. Koptische Heiligen- und Marty re rlegenden, 
Vol. 1. Orientalia Christiana Analecta 102. Rome, 

Ren6-Georgus Coouin 

tic scripture, handed down in several copies (Nag 
Hammadi Codex II, 5; 97.24-127.17; NHC XIII, 2, 
50. 25-34 [fragm.]; British Library, Or. 4926 fl] 
[fragm.]) and by comparison with other texts quite 
well preserved. In spite of its parallels, for instance, 
to Irenaeus (Adversus opines hacrcses 1.30), to testi¬ 
monies of the Sethian and Valent in ian gnosis, as 
well as to Manichaeism, il represents none of these 
known systems. Neither docs it offer its own sys¬ 
tem. It is a compendium of significant Gnostic 
thoughts, particularly about cosmogony, anthropog* 
eny, and eschatology, based on various sources and 
traditions and partly presented in quasi-scientific 
style with numerous etiologies and etymologies, 
making it appear outright encyclopedic. In addi¬ 
tion, with a view to appealing to the public, it em¬ 
ploys the style of an apologetic treatise. Yet the 
story of the earth as well as the representation of 
the upper world and its development are largely 
excluded. Based on the initially stated and then 
realized intent of the author, whose name is not 
noted or known, the title On the Origin of the World 
was given to this writing by its investigators. 

Starting from the assumption that the work is a 
conscious and planned composition without exten¬ 
sive secondary alterations and is not a work that 
grew from long tradition and the historical process, 
the terminus a quo may be given as the beginning 
of the influence of Manichaeism in Egypt, that is, at 
the end of the third century. As for the terminus ad 


quern, the time between the Greek prototype of the 
document, its written transmission and translation 
into Coptic, and the transmittal subsequent to the 
copying of Codex II from Nag Hammadi suggests 
the middle of the fourth century. Thus the time or 
its composition is possibly the early pan of the 
fourth century. The text joins Jewish notions of dif¬ 
ferent character—among them clear parallels to lit¬ 
erary testimonies of the early Jewish apocalypses— 
with Manichaean elements, with Christian ideas, 
with Greek philosophical concepts, and with figures 
of Greek or Hellenistic mythology. The practice of 
magic and astrology and a clearly accented empha¬ 
sis of an Egyptian body of thought are incorporated 
as well. All point to Alexandria as the presumed 
place of origin of the Greek form of the document. 

The author goes back in his work to sources of 
varying character, both Gnostic and non-Gnostic, 
without the reader being able to identify them pre¬ 
cisely, or even to reconstruct them in the literary 
critical sense. In so doing, the author at limes cre¬ 
ates tensions, imbalances, and contradictions, be¬ 
cause some of his sources presuppose a specific 
and different viewpoint. The working method of the 
writer shows especially in direct and indirect quota¬ 
tions, references, summaries, etymologies, explana¬ 
tions, and systematized summaries that are in no¬ 
ticeable contrast to his otherwise prevailing 
narrative style. Employing this system, the author 
presents an objective and convincing argument and 
attempts to strengthen his opinion by appealing to 
and referring to other works. 

Owing to a remarkable number of parallels and 
similar style, even down to details, a relationship 
undoubtedly exists between the HYPOSTASIS OF THE 
ARCHONS (NHC II, 4) and On the Origin o / the 
World . But because of the unequal character of 
both documents, their differing concepts of the 
world, and variations in details, one can hardly 
prove direct literary connections. However, both 
documents might be based on the same source ma¬ 

On the Origin of the World opens with a philo¬ 
sophical discussion about primeval chaos, but 
moves at once to a description of primeval events, 
reviewing at first the establishment of the boundary 
between the upper and lower world, as well as the 
formation by Pistis Sophia of Yaldabaoth, the first 
created and the main protagonist of the upper 
world. The cosmogony, and later the anthropogeny, 
are partly oriented to the early chapters of Genesis, 
but also to ideas known from several writings of the 

pseudepigraphic literature of Judaism (e.g., Jubi¬ 
lees, I Enoch). Indeed, Jewish influences and back¬ 
ground also surface in the author's angclology, de¬ 
monology, and eschatology, as well as in his 
etymologies. However, the Gnostic interpretation of 
the materials at hand is different in that it ranges 
from a complete reassessment of the arrogance of 
the demiurge or creator god—integrating Isaiah 
45:5 and 46:9—and events of Genesis 3, to a rela¬ 
tively unbroken integration of existing Jewish 
thoughts and motifs, as found in the description of 

The high point of primeval events is the creation 
of earthly man, which must be seen in connection 
with the doctrine of the primeval man in On the 
Origin of the World. This teaching is difficult to 
understand because it utilizes different motifs and 
heterogeneous ideas. Borrowing from Genesis 1:26 
and 2:7, early man is said to be created by the 
archons or rulers according to the image of the 
archons and in the likeness of the Light-Adam, a 
heavenly primeval man who corresponds in a cer¬ 
tain way to the Third Messenger in Manichaeism or 
to the “Anthropos of Poimandres." In a counter- 
campaign in the light world, the Sophia (ZoO), who 
functions in our document as savior and who also 
completes the archons’ unfinished creation of man, 
fashions a “spiritual" man who is manifested in 
different ways as the bringer of the gnosis: as the 
spiritual wife of Adam, as the serpent (“the beast”), 
and as the instructor in paradise who is viewed 
favorably. Fundamentally, all of these beings are 
the Sophia (Zo6) herself. 

In spite of the detailed account of primeval 
events, On the Origin of the World has overall an 
eschatological orientation that is universal in char¬ 
acter. This is seen in frequent references to the end 
of time as well as in a broad description of final 
events, along with a large number of thoughts, mo¬ 
tifs, concepts, and terms from apocalypses. The fi¬ 
nal state, which is brought about by the upper 
world with the redemption of the Gnostics—in dif¬ 
fering degrees—and the destruction of the creation 
of the archons, qualitatively surpasses the primeval 
state and makes impossible a recurrence of events 
described in the text, even similar events. 

In many respects, On the Origin of the World is a 
significant Gnostic work. Through this rather exten¬ 
sive writing, we gain insight into an educated au¬ 
thor's thinking, working methods, and logic regard¬ 
ing a fundamental theme. This document also 
shows the high degree of liberality and indepen- 



dence with which a Gnostic writer assimilates for¬ 
eign, even non-Gnostic and heterogeneous bodies 
of thought, in an effort to demonstrate the primacy 
of his position about existence and the world, for 
example, in the face of its mythological fashioning. 
Moreover, it can help us understand why and how 
the Gnostic view of reality persisted, and frequently 
even prevailed, in its interaction with other reli¬ 
gious and intellectual currents. 


Bethge, H.-G. "Vom Ursprung der Well" . . . neu 
herausgegehen und. . . erklart. Theological disser¬ 
tation, Humboldt University, Berlin, 1975. 
Bethge, H.-G., and O. Wintermute. "On the Origin 
of the World.” In The Nag Hammudi Library in 
English, ed. J. M. Robinson. New York, 1977. 
Bohlig, A., and P. Labib. Die koptisch-gnostische 
Schrifi ohne Tilel aus Codex II von Nag Hammadi 
ini Koptischen Museum zu Alt Kairo. Berlin, 1962. 
Fallon, F. The Enthronement of Sabaoth. Nag Ham¬ 
madi Studies 10. Leiden, 1978. 

Tardicu, M. Trots mylhes gnostiques, Adam , Eros et 
les dnimaux d’Egypte. Paris, 1974. 

Hans-Gebhard Bethge 

ORANT. See Christian Subjects in Coptic Art. 

ORARION. See Liturgical Vestments. 

bishop to ordain Christians of his diocese as dea¬ 
cons and priests is so generally recognized that the 
canons of the Coptic church (see canons, ecclesias¬ 
tical) relate only to abuses: for instance, the ordi¬ 
nation of Christians from another diocese or the 
acceptance of a gift for the ordination. The bishop’s 
right is somewhat restricted through the prescrip¬ 
tions of the canons regarding the ordination of per¬ 
sons as priests and deacons. For ordination to the 
clergy, the minimum age is twenty-five for a dea¬ 
con, thirty for a priest. Before ordination, the can¬ 
didate is to be instructed (see clerical instruction) 
and examined. Since the Council of chalcedon 
(451), ordinations may be only for a definite church 
ollice or title, and therefore only at the same time 
as the installation. The carrying out of the ordina¬ 
tion is also described in the canons. 

Whether the prescriptions of the canons were fol¬ 
lowed to the letter can be tested from primary 
sources, texts about ordination in the correspon¬ 
dence of bishop abraiiam of Hermonthis in the peri¬ 
od around 600. In the texts about the ordination of 
deacons and priests, the petition for the ordination 
of a particular person for a particular office is pre¬ 
sented by a third party. In Coptic ostracon 36 the 
bishop is to ordain Isaac as priest at the Church of 
Saint Mary in Piohe "because the place needs him." 
At the same time the petitioners (a priest, a scribe, 
and a reader of the same village) offer security that 
the ordinand will fulfill his office correctly. The 
texts contain no statements as to whether the candi¬ 
date satisfies the conditions contained in the can¬ 
ons, for example, in regard to the minimum age 
(Krause, 1956, Vol. 1, pp. 42ff.). After the bishop 
has granted the petition and ordained the candi¬ 
date. the ordained man himself or other persons on 
his behalf pledge to the bishop that he will fulfill 
the duties arising out of his office: the observance 
or fulfillment of the commandments, the church 
canons, and professional knowledge; care for the 
altar or the church; obedience to the bishop and 
superiors; the learning by heart of a particular Gos¬ 
pel within an appointed time, with a corresponding 
examination by the bishop. Among the further obli¬ 
gations of the ordained man are the observance of 
the forty-day fast and of vigils at his sleeping place 
and on Communion days, the duty of residence, the 
reciting of prayers, and refraining from trade and 
the taking of interest. The number of persons who 
pledge their security before the bishop for the or¬ 
dained man's observance of the obligations named 
varies between one and four, and is thus smaller 
than the number prescribed in the canons. Clergy 
are frequently punished for ofTenses against their 
official duties, according to the sources, by excom¬ 
munication or expulsion from the clergy. 

Two documents of appointment have survived 
horn the fourteenth century (Bilabel and Groh- 
mann, 1935). Both were drawn up by Philotheus, 
bishop of Panopolis and Lycopolis. In the older, 
dated 2 May 1361, he ordains John, son of Phoi- 
bammon, as deacon of the Church of Saint Theo- 
dorus of Lycopolis; in the second, dated 12 May 
1363, he ordains Gabriel, the son of Misael, as dea¬ 
con of the Church of Theodorus Stratelates. The 
documents are written in the Bohairic dialect with 
an Arabic translation. 

From the year 1256 a certificate of character has 
survived in Arabic that concerns a priest and monk 
named John, who was probably to be named as 



titular of a church. A document of consecration to 
the episcopate, dated 16 November 1371, was found 
in 1964 under the body of a bishop in Qasr Ibrim 
and published in 1975. In the document the patri¬ 
arch of Alexandria, GABRIEL IV. makes it known that 
he has consecrated the former priest Timotheus as 
bishop of Faras and Nubia. This document bears 
the names of four bishops as witnesses, two of 
whom, the bishops of Atrlb and Hermopolls, were 
present at the ceremonial consecration in the “sus¬ 
pended’' church or al mu'allaoaii in Old Cairo, and 
two (the bishops of Qift and Qus) were present at 
the enthronement. The enthronement took place on 
15 February 1372 in the Church of Saint Victor, 
west of QamQlah. The document was drawn up 
both in Bohairic and in Arabic. The Arabic original 
text has often been circulated, for instance, by Abu 
al-Barakat (Coquin, 1977, p. 142, with references). 


Bilabel, F., and A. Grohmann. “Zwei Urkunden aus 
dem bischoflichen Archiv von Panopolis in Agypt- 
en." Heidelberg, 1935. 

Coquin, R.-G. "A propos des rouleaux copies arabe 
de l’6v£que Timothee." Bibliotheca Orientalis 34 
(1977): 142—47. 

Krause, M. “Apa Abraham von Hermonthis. Ein 
oberiigyplischer Bischof um 600," 2 vols. Phil, 
diss., Berlin, 1956. 

Maspero, J. “Un diplome «rabc-chr6ticn du XIII* 
sifccle." Annalcs du Service des antiquites 11 
(1911): 177—85. 

Plumley, J. M. The Scrolls of Bishop Timothcos: Two 
Documents from Medieval Nubia. London, 1975. 
Stcinwenter, A. “Die Ordinationsbitten koptischer 
Kleriker." Acgyplus 11 (1930-1931):29-34. 

Martin Krause 

ORIENS CHRISTIANUS, the technical Latin 
term for the scholarly study of the Christian Orient. 
In its examination of the cultures of the Christian 
East this study encompasses seven languages: Geor¬ 
gian, Armenian, Syriac, Christian Arabic, Ethiopic, 
Coptic, and Old Nubian. Scholars in this discipline 
study works of literature originally composed in 
these languages as well as works translated into 
them. The extant texts are combed for information 
on such topics as paleography, codicology, chronol¬ 
ogy, church history. I be history of dogma, historical 
geography, the science of liturgy, church law, 
church music, archaeology, and the history of art. 

The study of the Christian Orient does not begin 

with the first Christian mission to the relevant 
countries; rather, it investigates the relationship be¬ 
tween the pre-Christian and Christian eras, paying 
special attention to continuity and discontinuity. 
The study also looks at the relationship of the Chris¬ 
tian countries to one another. 

Although this discipline is represented so far at 
only a few universities (e.g., in Germany in the 
Philosophical Faculties), its scope in terms of both 
space and time, as well as the abundance of the 
extant sources, has led to increasing specialization. 
Some representatives of the subject teach only a 
few of the languages and limit their research to 
certain areas, such as philology and literature. This 
leads to such designations of the discipline as “Phi¬ 
lology of the Christian Orient" (Munich) and “Lan¬ 
guages and Cultures of the Christian Orient” 
(Tubingen). Other scholars in the field, such as 
those at the Institut catholique in Paris, specialize 
in only one of the seven languages and its corre¬ 
sponding culture. This specialization has given rise 
to the formation of new scholarly disciplines, such 
as Coptology and Syriology. 


Assfalg, J. Kleines Worterbuch des christlichen Ori¬ 
ents. Wiesbaden, 1975. 

Ecole des langues orientates ancicnncs de Tlnstitut 
catholique de Paris. Memorial du cinquantenaire 
1914-1964. Travaux de Nnstitut catholique de Pa¬ 
ris 10. Paris, 1964. 

Guillaumont, A. “L’Orient chretien." Journal asia- 
tique 261 (1973):69-81. 

Martin Krausf. 


appellation chosen for the 1965 Addis Ababa con¬ 
ference of the non-Chalcedonian churches, in order 
to distinguish them from the Eastern Orthodox 
churches, which are Chalcedonian. The participat¬ 
ing churches were the Coptic, the Ethiopian, the 
Syrian, the Armenian, and the Indian, the five 
churches that rejected the decisions of the Council 
of chalcedon in 451. They were represented by del¬ 
egations composed of ecclesiastics and laymen, 
headed by their patriarchs, except for the Armeni¬ 
ans, who were represented by their two catholi- 
coses, those of Echmiadzin and Cilicia. 

The conference, which was held on the initiative, 
and at the invitation, of Emperor HAILE SELASSIE, 
was an important event in church history. The 



heads of these churches had not met in person 
since the Council of EPHESUS in 431, over fifteen 
centuries earlier. The conference, held on 15-21 
January 1965, was preceded by a period of consul¬ 
tation (9-14 January). The conference adopted de¬ 
cisions embodied in three resolutions and a long 
declaration, comprising a preamble and six chap¬ 
ters: "The Modern World and the Churches," "Co¬ 
operation on Church Education," "Cooperation on 
Evangelism," "Relations with Other Churches," 
"Machinery for the Maintenance of Permanent Re¬ 
lations Among the Churches,” and "Statement on 
Peace and Justice in the World." A standing com¬ 
mittee, with an interim secretariat, was appointed 
by the conference and held several meetings in the 
following years. 

Mirrit Boutros Ghali 


Since the early days of Christianity, the east has 
been the point designated to be faced during pray¬ 
ers, both by the officiating priest and by the congre¬ 
gation. This has lo be taken into account in build¬ 
ing a church, so the altar must be placed in the 
eastern end, with the longer axis of the church 
running east to west. The apostolic constitutions 
prescribe that "all rise up with oner consent and, 
looking toward the east .... pray to God east¬ 
ward." Al-Saf! ibn al-'Assal, the thirteenth-century 
compiler of Coptic canon law, stated that "the con¬ 
gregation stand with their hands lifted up towards 
Heaven, and their faces directed towards the east." 

The theological significance of the orientation to¬ 
ward the east is stressed at the beginning of the 
liturgy where the deacon directs the congregation 
to stand up and look toward the east, "to witness 
the Body and Blood of Emmanuel, our Lord, placed 
on the altar." The east is also associated with the 
sun of righteousness "arising from the east with 
healing in his wings” (Mai. 4:2) and with the Sec¬ 
ond Coming of Christ in glory to judge the living 
and the dead. This was described by Christ in the 
following terms: "For as the lightning cometh out 
of the east and shineth even unto the west, so shall 
also the coming of the Son of Man be" (Ml. 24:27). 
When worshipers face the east, they affirm their 
anticipation of the last advent, in accordance with 
the words of the two angels to the disciples of Jesus 
at the time of His ascension, "This same Jesus, Who 
is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in 
like manner as you have seen Him go into Heaven" 
(Acts 1:11). 

The same subject has been treated by various 
church authorities throughout the ages. Saint uasil 
the great links it with the ancient homeland of 
man in Paradise, "It is according to an unwritten 
tradition that we turn to the East to pray. But little 
do we know that we are thus seeking the ancient 
homeland, the Paradise that God planted in Eden, 
towards the East" (De Spiritu Sancto, p. 27). Saint 
EPHRAEM the Syrian (306-373) writes that "The 
Jews looked to Jerusalem in their prayers, for it 
was their holy country. As for us, the Paradise is 
our country which was in the East. Therefore we 
are ordered to look towards the East during our 
prayers." Saint GREGORY OF NYSSA (c. 330-395) con¬ 
siders the matter from a particular angle: "Such 
motion of orientation helps the soul to repent and 
seek the kingdom of God in her worship." 

If the East stands for righteousness and light, the 
West is associated with ungodliness and darkness. 
Consequently, at the moment of the renunciation of 
Satan during baptism in the Coptic Church, the 
person to be baptized is required to look toward the 
West, and stretch out his right hand and say, "1 
renounce thee, Satan." Then he turns toward the 
East and, stretching both hands, says, "I join myself 
lo Thee, Christ." 


Burmester, O. II. E. The Egyptian or Coptic Church. 

Cairo, 1967. 

Butler, A. J. The Ancient Coptic Churches of Egypt. 

2 vols. Oxford, 1884. 

Dani6lou, J. The Bible and the Liturgy. Notre Dame, 

Ind., 1956. 

Archbishop Basilios 

ORIGEN. [This entry consists of three articles: 
General History, Origen in the Copto-Arabic Tradi¬ 
tion, and Origen's Writings.] 

General History 

Origen (185-255) was one of the greatest Chris¬ 
tians who ever lived, and certainly among the great¬ 
est of Egyptian Christians. Only ATHANASIUS can ri¬ 
val him in stature among the sons of Christian 
Egypt. He was born of Christian parents at Alexan¬ 
dria and probably died at Tyre. In 202 his father, 
Leonidas, was many red in the persecution under 
Emperor Scptimius Scverus. Various details and an¬ 
ecdotes of his youth have been recorded by the 
ecclesiastical historian EUSEBIUS OF CAESAREA, not all 
of which may be authentic; but it is likely that 

ORIGEN: General History 1847 

about 204 Origen, in a fit of ascetieal self¬ 
mortification, castrated himself, and that at a very 
early age he was put in charge of the CATI-CHETICAL 
school OF Alexandria (though the exact nature of 
that school is uncertain). He must have known the 
works of CLEMENT OF Alexandria, though he never 
mentions him. 

His early poverty, which was at least in part vol¬ 
untary, was relieved by a rich official called 
Ambrosius, whom Origen had persuaded to aban¬ 
don GNOSTICISM for Catholic Christianity and who 
subsidized Origen's publications. Origen mentions 
his patron more than once and wrote one of his 
works, The Exhortation to Martyrdom, for his bene¬ 

By 231 Origen had visited Rome, Arabia, and Pal¬ 
estine briefly, and had begun collecting translations 
of the Old Testament. He had already made a name 
for himself as a Christian theologian and had pro¬ 
duced his first important work. In that year he 
found himself in conflict with Demetrius i (189- 
231), the bishop of Alexandria, who apparently re¬ 
sented his growing fame as a teacher. He visited 
Athens and then, probably in 232, went to Antioch, 
where he was summoned, as a leading Christian 
philosopher, to an interview with Julia Marnaea, the 
mother of Emperor Alexander Scvcrus. He proba¬ 
bly returned to Alexandria briefly but then left it 
forever, pursued by the enmity of Demetrius, who 
succeeded in having Origen condemned by a synod 
at Rome as well as one at Alexandria. The main 
charge must have been that during his recent trav¬ 
els he had been ordained presbyter by a bishop in 
Palestine, without his own bishop being consulted 
and in spite of his self-mutilation. Demetrius' 
successor, HERACLAS (231- 247), continued the feud. 
The Eastern church, however, took no notice of 
these synods, and for the rest of his life Origen 
remained a persona grata among the churches of 
Asia, Palestine, Syria, and Arabia. He settled in Pal¬ 
estinian Caesarea, where he spent most of the rest 
of his life, making visits to Athens and Arabia and, 
during the reign of the persecuting emperor 
Maximinus (235-238), remaining for a considerable 
time in Cappadocian Caesarea with its bishop. 
Firmillian. In 249 he is said to have been impris¬ 
oned and tortured as a confessor during the perse¬ 
cution of Emperor decius. He probably moved to 
Tyre about two years before his death. 

Though Origen started writing late in his life, his 
output was enormous. Much of it survives in the 
original Greek, and even more in Latin translations 
made during the two centuries after his death, 
some by Rufinus and Jerome. Though most of his 

work took the form of commentary or sermon on 
biblical texts, the first major work, and the earliest 
that has come down to us, is one that he called Peri 
archOn (Concerning First Principles), usually 
known by its latin title De principiis. It is an at¬ 
tempt to show the common ground possessed by 
Christianity and certain forms of contemporary 
Greek philosophy, notably Middle Platonism (the 
eclectic, developed form of Platonism popular in 
the third century). It contains some of Origen’s 
most daring thought, and is more concerned to 
push speculation beyond the limits of the Rule of 
Faith (though mostly without contravening it) than 
to interpret Scripture. It exists in a Latin translation 
and in fragments of the Greek, some quite long. It 
should be dated about 225. But Origen had already 
begun an extremely long Commentary on Saint 
John's Gospel, of which nine books and several 
fragments survive in Greek. By the thirty-second 
and last book he had reached only John 13:33. 

This work contains a great deal of Origen’s 
thought on the doctrine of the Trinity and on Chris- 
tology; he wrote it gradually over a number of 
years. Next in order (between 232 and 234) we 
should probably place Commentaries on Corinthi¬ 
ans and On Ephesians, and his homilies on Saint 
Luke's Gospel, as well as his remarkable book On 
Prayer, the first Christian work to contain a com¬ 
mentary on the Lord's Prayer. In 235 his Exhorta¬ 
tion to Martyrdom appeared, designed to support 
Ambrosius, who had been arrested during the per¬ 
secution of Maximinus (though he was later freed). 
He then wrote a longer Commentary on the Song of 
Songs (he had written a shorter one earlier), a 
Commentary on Romans, a vast Commentary on 
Saint Matthew's Gospel, Homilies on Leviticus, Hom¬ 
ilies on the Psalms, and, his crowning work, Against 
Celsus, extant in the original eight books. 

CELSUS. a philosopher, had written an attack on 
the Christian religion about fifty years before. At 
Ambrosius’ request, because it was troubling the 
mind of many Christians, Origen undertook to re¬ 
fute it, and did so thoroughly, taking it paragraph 
by paragraph, so as to make his book virtually an 
apology for Christianity: it can be dated to 248. We 
also have, in a manuscript discovered in the 1940s 
at Turah, near Cairo, a fragmentary account by an 
anonymous person of a conference between Origen 
and some clergy in a town in Arabia (modem Jor¬ 
dan) on points of controversy or uncertainty in doc¬ 
trine, known as the Dialogue with Heracleides, in 
which what might be called the sweet reasonable¬ 
ness of Origen in discussion is very evident. 

There also survive a large number of works by 

1848 ORIGEN: General History 

Origen that cannot be so accurately dated: Homilies 
on I Samuel 28 (the witch of Endor). and on Judg¬ 
es, Exodus, Genesis, Numbers, Ezekiel, and Joshua, 
some of them sermons taken down in shorthand as 
he delivered them, as well as several fragments of 
other works and a few letters. Origen also, after 
spending a large part of his life collecting copies of 
the Old Testament in Greek, about 243 produced a 
work known as the Hexapla, the Old Testament in 
parallel—the Hebrew text, its transcription into 
Greek letters, the Septuagint, and three (and some¬ 
times more) other Greek translations of the text. It 
was long preserved in the library of the bishop of 
Palestinian Caesarea; some parts of it are extant. 

Educated in Alexandria, which was then the cul¬ 
tural capital of the Roman empire, Origen had ab¬ 
sorbed the intellectual heritage of Greek philoso¬ 
phy, which included what we would now call 
science in most of its branches, history, and theolo¬ 
gy. Only in imaginative power is he lacking; when 
he comes to face the literary forms, sometimes po¬ 
etic and dramatic, of the Bible, he fails to realize 
their significance; shows no appreciation of poetry 
or drama; rarely quotes either; and writes a prose 
that seldom rises above the pedestrian. But his 
thought represents a grand and sophisticated syn¬ 
thesis of Christian doctrine and Greek philosophy. 
His pupil Gregory Thcodorus, whose Eulogy of Ori¬ 
gen is extant, wrote of him that he did not indis¬ 
criminately accept all philosophy; that he owed 
most of all to Middle Platonism; that his ethics and 
psychology were largely Stoic; and that Aristotle 
supplied only his cosmology and his logic. But 
Origen's thought, which can be reconstructed with 
confidence in its main lines and in most of its de¬ 
tails, is the most able, brilliant, and sophisticated 
production the Christian Church had hitherto seen 
or was yet to see until another great African, Augus¬ 
tine, made his appearance. 

For Origen, God is One and Simple, pure, immu¬ 
table Spirit, the original source of all existence and 
all goodness; he is One in contrast with the mani¬ 
fold, but the One to whom the manifold is moving, 
striving to return. To this superessential Essence 
(so abstract that we can scarcely predicate being of 
Him) Origen attributed self-consciousness and will; 
to Origen, God was always living and |»ersonal; here 
the biblical tradition made its impression on him. 
God is omniscient and omnipotent, but he is not 
the predestining God of Old Testament and New 
Testament. He foreknows and foresees but does not 
foreordain. In Origen’s view God’s goodness and 
His justice are not contrasted or even kept in bal¬ 
ance, but are identical. God, of course, punishes 

those who deserve punishment, but his punishment 
is never purely retributive; it is always remedial. 
Origen rejects altogether the notion of God’s wrath; 
God is never angry. At one point he says that the 
worst thing that God can do to anybody is simply to 
leave him alone. 

In this respect Origen carried the liberal theology 
of Clement much further. Origen’s doctrine of God 
is firmly trinitarian. God's nature is to communi¬ 
cate and reveal Himself; and because He cannot 
change, He must always have been communicating 
Himself, from eternity. In order to communicate 
Himself, however, the One and Simple must be¬ 
come manifold, and He can do this only by aban¬ 
doning His absolute immunity to change or experi¬ 
ence (impassibility, apatheia) and assuming a form 
in which He can act and be an organ for acting. 
This is the Word (Logos) or Son. The Logos is the 
perfect image of God, really and truly God; in 
fact, Origen can call him "Second God" (not "a 
second god"), echoing a Middle Platonist term. The 
Logos/Son has a distinct existence, an individual 
reality (Origen uses both hypostasis and ousia lor 
this), from that of the Father, and this, too, is di¬ 
vine: "The Savior," he says, "is God not merely 
by participation ( metousia ) but in His own right 
( kat'ousian )." The Logos/Son has always been with 
the Father, and has always been distinct from Him. 
The generation or production of the Son is an act 
lasting from eternity. "There never was a time 
when He did not exist," says Origen, and elsewhere, 
"The Savior is eternally generated by the Father." 

In this doctrine of the eternal generation of the 
Son, Origen has broken through the trinitarian 
scheme that had held in Christian theology before 
his day and had taught that for purposes of cre¬ 
ation, revelation, and redemption, God had at one 
point unfolded Himself into a Trinity ("economic 
trinitarian ism"). The Logos/Son is a distinctly exist¬ 
ing entity, the second reality ( hypostasis ) within the 
godhead. He is not absolutely simple, like the Fa¬ 
ther, but complex; in relation to the world Me can 
be called a creature ( demiourgema , ktisma). Above 
all, the Son is a mediator by constitution, as part of 
the godhead, in his preexistent eternal state inde¬ 
pendently of the Incarnation. In spite of parting 
from economic trinitarianism, then, Origen’s doc¬ 
trine of the Son is necessarily subordinationist. 

In certain important respects the Son is less than 
the Father. Origen’s speculations did not require a 
Holy Spirit, but the Rule of Faith insisted upon the 
Spirit's being included in his trinitarian doctrine. 
Therefore Origen postulated the Spirit as the third 
reality ( hypostasis ) within the godhead and as part 

ORIGEN: General History 1849 

of the divine essence. He becomes the Holy Spirit 
through the Son and is the first creation of the 
Father through the Son. Origen uses the word trias 
of the Trinity. All Persons are equal in divinity and 
dignity, and the substance that they possess is one. 
The evidence that Origen applied the word homoou- 
sios (consubstantial) to the Son is unsatisfactory 
and cannot be trusted. As the Son constitutes a 
stage of transition from the One to the manifold, so 
the Spirit represents a further stage of this process. 
Origen’s Trinity is therefore (like Karl Barth’s) a 
Trinity of eternal revelation, but it has degrees in it; 
it is an internally graded Trinity. 

Origen’s doctrine of salvation (soteriology) is in¬ 
genious and unusual. God must always have had 
recipients of His eternal self-revelation. Therefore 
free rational spirits (souls) must have existed from 
eternity. All forms of Platonism always insisted that 
the soul is eternal and indestructible; being spiritu¬ 
al (nuetoi) and rational ( logikoi) is what constitutes 
all souls, whether angelic or human. All souls have 
from eternity been created to be obedient to God; 
and, to preserve God’s changelessness, they must 
all in the end return to free obedience, no matter 
what may have happened in the past. Consequently, 
on philosophical, not humanitarian, grounds, Ori¬ 
gen is an universalist; that is, he believes that every¬ 
body must in the end be saved. His account of how 
any souls came to fall from obedience to God is not 
clear, but he apparently believed that all created 
spirits must develop, and in the course of develop¬ 
ment sin; thus disobedience to God occurred. It 
occurred among souls before the world was creat¬ 
ed; Origen teaches, therefore, a premundane Fall. 
The story of Adam and Eve is only an allegory or 
parabolic account of what happened before the 
world began. 

It was in order to cope with the situation brought 
about by the Fall that God created the world. The 
physical universe is the machinery for stalling all 
men and women on their journey back to God after 
the premundane Fall. Every soul is ultimately born 
into the world either as a human being or (if very 
evil) as a devil. The world becomes a vast reforma¬ 
tory run by God. Note that Origen does not believe 
in reincarnation; in his Commentary on Matthew he 
explicitly rejects this doctrine more than once. 
Note, too, that Origcn's conception of the world is 
not Gnostic. For him the world is good, a state not 
of punishment but of purification. Physical matter, 
once it has served its purpose of enabling fallen 
souls to pass through this world, will disappear; it 
lacks ultimate reality. F.vil, too, is unreal; it is the 
absence of good. Origen’s anthropology envisages 

human beings as rational spirits united with physi¬ 
cal bodies and possessing “animal” souls (roughly 
speaking, nervous systems). Whoever conquers the 
temptations and passions that reach him through 
his '’animal” soul gradually achieves likeness to 
God (homoidsis ). All men already possess, as free 
immortal souls, the indestructible image ( eikon ) of 

Into this ingeniously devised framework Origen 
fits a no less ingenious account of the Incarnation. 
The Logos/Son in His preexistent state had always 
been helping angels and human beings in their 
struggle toward purification and union with God. 
For this purpose he chose his people Israel and 
sent the prophets. But in order to lead people back 
to God, the Logos Himself had to appear and to 
become incarnate. His activity when incarnate was 
complex and varied. For the duller and rougher 
souls He had to demonstrate a real victory over sin, 
to make a sacrifice, to offer a ransom to the devil, 
to bring obvious and easily intelligible salvation. 
For the more cultured and intelligent souls, he had 
to impart in addition new depths of knowledge as 
teacher and hierophant, and thereby to impart di¬ 
vine life and initiate the process of homoidsis and 
divinization for men. 

Origen accepted that everyone must begin by be¬ 
lieving in the historical Jesus. But for intellectuals 
this was only a beginning; they were to transcend 
this stage as quickly as possible and reach a state of 
mystical contemplation of the post incarnate Logos 
(the Logos no longer incarnate after the ascension), 
and nourish themselves on the eternal Gospel. In 
fact, though, Origen reproduces all the traditional 
language of atonement—conquest of demons, expi¬ 
ation of sin, ransom paid to the devil, sacrifice. All 
these things were, in his view, subsidiary to the 
main purpose of God, which was to educate men 
and women into salvation. E. De Faye rightly said 
that Origcn's atonement doctrine was that of “Dieu 

Origen’s account of how the Son of God became 
incarnate was as carefully worked out as the rest of 
his doctrine. The preexistent Logos/Son united 
Himself with a pure, unfallen, created spirit who 
had always cleaved steadfastly to Him; to this spirit 
or soul the Logos was united more closely than to 
any other, because of the soul's unceasing effort of 
will to cleave to Him; it was a fellowship, a union, 
but not a fusion. At the Incarnation this spirit/soul 
took to itself a human body and an “animal” soul. 
The Ix>gos preserved His impassibility; all the hu¬ 
man experiences—hunger, sleep, suffering, emo¬ 
tions—were endured by the spirit. The Logos was 

1850 ORIGEN: General History 

able to cause the body to assume all qualities nec¬ 
essary for His activity, varied and different as they 
were. That is why Jesus was not easy to recognize 
and why Judas had to identify him with a kiss. Even 
during the Incarnation the Logos united with all 
souls everywhere who would open themselves to 
Him, and acted independently of the human Jesus. 
At the death on the cross the ‘'animal" soul of Jesus 
went to the underworld, the body to the tomb, and 
the spirit to God. After the Ascension the human 
Jesus was transformed into a spirit and the human 
nature disappeared, completely absorbed into the 
godhead. The Incarnation was therefore a closed 

As the human spirit of Jesus united itself with the 
Logos, so the soul of each of us can be united to 
Him, beginning necessarily with faith, first in the 
human Jesus of Galilee, then in the Crucified, then 
in the risen and glorified Christ, and so on up a 
scale of enlightenment, the Logos assisting at every 
step, until the "contemplative life" is reached, the 
pure spirit clinging in love to the deity. Origen was 
able virtually to dispense with traditional eschatolo¬ 
gy by allegorizing it. Picturesque imagery is dis¬ 
solved into morality; hell becomes the gnawing of 
conscience; the Second Coming can be anticipated 
in contemplation ( iheuria ). The resurrection of the 
flesh is rejected: “A certain principle is inherent in 
the body; this is not corrupted and it is from this 
that the [nonphysical] body is raised in incorrup¬ 
tion." But this is only the beginning of the progress 
of each soul beyond this life. We must experience a 
series of different purgative processes in a series of 
different spiritual or intellectual worlds or existenc¬ 
es (but never again as incarnate) before achieving 
our final destiny in return to God. Even the devil 
must eventually capitulate and freely obey. 

Such is a rough sketch of Origcn’s remarkable 
fusion of Christianity and Platonism, lie was able to 
distill it from the Bible to his own satisfaction by 
the use of allego 17 . This was a system of biblical 
interpretation that drew its thought partly from pre- 
Christian Judaism, reflected occasionally in the 
New Testament, but more from the exegetical 
method of PHILO OF ALEXANDRIA, a Jewish theologian 
writing in Greek and a contemporary of Saint Paul, 
who was deeply influenced by Greek philosophy 
and contributed much to the thought of both Clem¬ 
ent and Origen. A flexible and uncritical use of 
Philo's allegorizing (i.e., reading into the text a sec¬ 
ond meaning supposed to be latent within or be¬ 
neath the ordinary surface meaning) enabled Ori¬ 
gen to manipulate the text of the Bible so as to 
yield virtually whatever meaning he needed for his 

argument. This technique meant that his thought 
could be, and to some extent undoubtedly was, in¬ 
dependent of scriptural control (or as independent 
as he chose). In consequence, Origen may be re¬ 
garded as a great theologian, but he can hardly be 
described as a great biblical scholar, in spite of his 
immense exegetical labors and his popularizing the 
commentary form, which in fact he borrowed (as 
he boiTowed the practice of allegorizing eschatolo¬ 
gy) from the Gnostics. 

Origen was a devout churchman all his life; he 
championed the Christian church in his books, en¬ 
couraged its martyrs, instructed its prayer, conduct¬ 
ed its services, preached to its congregations, and 
on more than one occasion was called in to recon¬ 
cile heretics or to convert the misled. In his own 
day he was regarded by most of his friends and 
followers as a great Christian teacher and philoso¬ 
pher, and this deserved reputation lasted long alter 
his death. It would be quite wrong to call him a 
heretic. By the standards of his own day he was not 
only orthodox but a defender and upholder of or¬ 
thodoxy. It was only long after his death that seri¬ 
ous accusations of heresy were brought against 
him, culminating in his condemnation at the Sec¬ 
ond Council of Constantinople of (553). But the 
charges brought there against Origen were caused 
partly by misunderstanding and misrepresentation, 
partly by complete lack of historical sense, and 
partly by the demand of contemporary pressures. 

Origen’s influence upon the Greek-speaking theo¬ 
logians of the Eastern church extended for well 
over a century after his death. His contribution to 
the development of the doctrine of the Trinity was a 
permanent gain and enabled the defenders of the 
Nicene Creed to overcome the influence of ARIAN- 
ism. even though certain other traits in his thought 
may have tended in the opposite direction. His tra¬ 
dition of interpreting the Bible in the interests of 
the spiritual development of the individual soul, 
especially displayed in his work on the Song of 
Songs and on the book of Numbers, extended its 
influence well into the Middle Ages in both East 
and West. Origen has always appealed to individu¬ 
als of intellect and insight through the ages—for 
instance, to John Scotus Erigena and to Erasmus— 
and probably always will. Indeed, international 
scholarship has seen a great revival in the study of 
Origen since the end of World War II, and an inter¬ 
national Colloquium Origenianum has been found¬ 
ed to further this interest. 

Perhaps Origen's greatest and most enduring 
achievement was to compel the church to recog¬ 
nize the necessity of coming to terms with contem- 

ORIGEN: Origen in the Copto-Arabic Tradition 


porary non-Christian thought. So thoroughly did he 
achieve this that the church's attitude to philosophy 
was permanently altered by his work. Never again 
could it afford to ignore secular thought. Distant 
though he is from us in time, and distant in culture 
owing to his living in a late Greco-Roman civiliza¬ 
tion, and distant in thought because of his preoccu¬ 
pation with late Platonism, we can salute this great 
Christian Egyptian and recognize in him a kindred 
spirit as we in our generation struggle to express 
the Christian message in the language and thought 
of our day. 


Bertrand, F. Mystique de Jesus chez Origene. Paris, 

Bigg, C. The Christian Platonists of Alexandria. Ox¬ 
ford, 1913. 

Butterworth, G. W., trans. Origen on First Principles. 
London, 1936. 

Chadwick, II., trans. Origen Contra Cels urn. Cam¬ 
bridge, 1953. 

Crouzel, Henri. Theologie de Vimage de dieu chez 
Origttne. Paris, 1956. 

- Origene et la philosophic. Paris, 1962. 

Danielou, J. Origen. London, 1955. 

Faye, E. de. Orig&ne, sa vie, son oeuvre, sa pensee, 3 
vols. Paris, 1923-1928. 

Hanson, R. P. C. Allegory and Event: A Study oj the 
Sources and Significance of Origen's Interpreta¬ 
tion of Scripture. London, 1959. 

Harl, M. Origene et la function revelatrice du verbe 
income . Paris, 1958. 

Jay, E. G., trans. Origen's Treatise on Prayer. Lon¬ 
don, 1954. 

Kettler, F. H. Der urspriingliche Sinn der Dogmatik 
des Origenes. Berlin, 1966. 

Koch, H. Pronoia und Paideusis. Berlin anti I^ipzig, 

Lubac, H. de. Histoire et esprit: L'intelligence de 
lecriture d'apres Origene. Paris, 1950. 

Nautin, P. Origene, sa vie et son oeuvre. Paris, 1977. 
Oulton, J. E. L., and 11. Chadwick. Alexandrian 
Christianity. London, 1954. 

Tollington, R. B., trans. Selections from the Com¬ 
mentaries and Homilies of Origen. London, 1929. 
Trigg, J. W. Origen: The Bible and Philosophy in the 
Third Century Church. London, 1985. 

Vitores, A. Identidad entre el cuerpo muerto y resuc- 
itado en Origenes segun el "De resunectione." 
Jerusalem, 1981. 

Vogt, H. J. Das Kirchenverstandnis des Origenes. 

Cologne and Vienna, 1974. 

Volker, W. Das Vollkornmenheitsideal des Origenes. 
Tubingen, 1931. 

R. P. C. Hanson 

Origen in the Copto-Arabic Tradition 

There can be no doubt that the condemnation of 
Origen in 231 and again in 232. and his deposition 
from the priesthood by Demetrius, the twelfth patri¬ 
arch of Alexandria (189-231), disqualified Origen in 
the Coptic church. It is possible that his condemna¬ 
tion by Justinian in 543 as a heretic, as confirmed 
by the Second Council of CONSTANTINOPLE in 553, 
also was known to some medieval Copts, thus rein¬ 
forcing their rejection of him. 

No work by Origen was translated into Arabic 
during the Middle Ages—or even in the modern 
period. Furthermore, no trace of him can be found 
even in the patristic series on the Bible, in the 
dogmatic anthologies, or in the original works com¬ 
posed by the Copts in the Middle Ages. 

The only mention of him is made in the context 
of the history of the church, when speaking of De¬ 
metrius or Dionysius of Alexandria. Even then, Ori¬ 
gen always figures among heretics. Two particular 
Arabic medieval works make mention of him, the 
HISTORY of THE patriarchs and the Coptic Arabic 


The History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria, com¬ 
posed by SAWIRUS I BN ALMUOAFFA*. bishop of al-Ash- 
munayn, in the mid-tenth century, speaks at some 
length of Origen in the biography of Demetrius: 

There was a man [Evetts’s correction "among 
them was the father of a man" cannot be justi¬ 
fied] named Origen, who learned the sciences of 
the heathen, and abandoned the books of God, 
and began to speak blasphemously of them. So 
when the Father Demetrius heard of this man, 
and saw that some of the people had gone astray 
after his lies, he removed him from the church. 

(History of the Patriarchs, Vol. 1, part 1) 

The account of the battle against Origen goes on 
for several pages and occupies the major part of the 
biography of Demetrius. It is borrowed faithfully 
from book VI of the Ecclesiastical History of Euse¬ 
bius of Caesarea. 

The Arabic Synaxarion, composed during the first 
half of the thirteenth century, mentions Origen 
twice. The first mention is in the biography of Saint 
Demetrius, on 12 Babah, where the following is 
written: "During his time heretics appeared; here 
are the names of some of them: Clement, Origen, 
Arius and others. They composed deceitful books, 
such that Demetrius cursed them and excommuni¬ 
cated them." 

The second account is in the bibliography of 
Saint Dionysius (246-266), on 13 Baramhat, where 
we read: 


ORIGEN: Origcn's Writings 

During his time, numerous heresies appeared in 
religion. Thus in the districts of Arabia people 
were seen stating, in the error of their spirit, that 
the soul dies with the body and that it rises again 
with it at the resurrection. He called a synod 
against them and excommunicated them. Others 
followed the heresy of Origen and of Sabellius. 

During the modern period, a timid rehabilitation 
of Origen has been slowly under way in the Coptic 
church, and certain of his works have recently been 
translated into Arabic. Samir. S.J. 

Origen's Writings 

Origen is decidedly the most prolific author of all 
time, since he has been accredited by his pupil, 
Saint Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis in Cyprus, with 
the authorship of at least 6,000 works, a number 
unsurpassed in the history of literary annals. Saint 
Jerome contests this estimate and reduces it to 
2,000, which is still a majestic figure. Some baffled 
commentators conjecture that Eusebius of Caesa¬ 
rea, in whose Life of Pamphilus this estimate is 
revealed, could have added a zero to a more ac¬ 
ceptable figure of 600, which is an unauthorized 
statement. Whatever the truth of that monumental 
figure may be, we must assume that in those days, 
the totality of all scholars in the catechetical school 
of ALEXANDRIA pooled their literary products under 
the name of their great mentor who presided over 
that institution, and Origen happened to be that 
leading personality. There is no authorized edition 
extant of this giant's multitudinous writings, and it 
has been suggested that an institution or learned 
society should undertake the task of assembling his 
works in a monumental series. 

Though a great many of Origen's works are lost, 
and some are fragmentary, the residue thereof, to¬ 
gether with such major items as the Hexapla, could 
furnish the world of religious scholarship with one 
of its most extended collections. In 1882 Brooke 
Foss Westcott, canon of Westminster and Regius 
professor of divinity at Cambridge University, at¬ 
tempted to make a chronological and topical survey 
of Origen's works in a worthy study published in A 
Dictionary of Christian Biography. 

Chronologically speaking, the works of Origen 
are divisible into two groups. The first group be¬ 
longs to the period of his presidency ol the 
Catechetical School before his flight to Caesarea in 
231. This first category included the following titles: 

llexapla begun 

Commentaries on the Chronicles, Psalms. Gene¬ 
sis, and John, in several independent books 

Two books on the Resurrection 

Five books of commentary on Lamentations 

On Prayer 

Ten books of a miscellaneous character 

De principiis 

On Free Will 

These arc mentioned explicitly by Eusebius in his 
Historia ecclesiastica, the last two items belonging 
to the discipline of philosophy. After Origen's flight 
to Caesarea and his settlement in that city, his mind 
became free from the struggles in Alexandria, and 
his productivity multiplied. According to Eusebius, 
this order and content may be the consensus of this 
category starting in 231 and culminating in 249. It 
is known that Pamphilus collected most ol this cat¬ 
egory for the library of Caesarea, even transcribing 
a major pail thereof in his own hand. Falling into 
decay, this library was again restored by Eusinius, 
bishop of Caesarea, and later suffered dissipation 
like all antique collections. This category, based on 
the work of Eusebius, mainly consisted of the fol¬ 
lowing items: 

231-238: Commentaries on I Corinthians, 

Luke, Deuteronomy, and John; 
probably more than eight books 

235-236: Letter to Gregory of Neo-Caesarea 

Commentaries on Genesis, books 9- 

Mystical homilies on Genesis 
Exhortation to Martyrdom 
Nine homilies on Judges 
Nine homilies on Isaiah 
Thirty books of commentary on Isa¬ 

238-240: Twenty-five books of commentaries 

on the prophets 

240: Letter to Julius Africanus on the 

Greek additions to Daniel 
Five books of commentary on 
Chronicles completed at Athens, 
and five more completed at Caesa¬ 

241: Homilies on Psalms 26-38 

Commentaries on Exodus, Leviticus, 
Isaiah, the minor prophets, and 

Homilies and separate historical 

ORIGEN: Origen's Writings 


Completion of commentaries on 

244-: Four books of homilies on the Pen¬ 

tateuch, Joshua, Judges, Jeremiah, 
and Ezekiel 

Fifteen books of commentaries on 
the Epistle of Paul to the Romans 
Hexapla completed 
Commentaries on Matthew 
Epistles to Fabianus and others on 
miscellaneous items 
Three books of commentaries on 1 
Thessalonians, Galatians, Ephesians, 
and Hebrews 

249: Contra Celsum 

Topically, Origen's works may be classified into 
the following categories: exegetical, dogmatic, apol¬ 
ogetic, practical, epistles, and philocalia (literally, 
pastoral and episcopal chronography). 

In his extensive article, Westcott meticulously re¬ 
cords all details connected with each of these cate¬ 
gories and follows the whereabouts of every bag- 
men I. 

We must remember, however, that most of Ori¬ 
gen's original writings in Greek and Coptic have 
been lost. We depend on the Latin translation of 
sections of his works by Rufinus essentially, and 
partly by Saint Jerome. It is through their labors 
that we can really become acquainted with Origen’s 
massive contributions. 

The first category of Origen's work, biblical stud¬ 
ies and exegetical commentaries, is the most exten¬ 
sive among his contributions. He was conversant 
with Hebrew as much as Greek, and this throws 
much light on his treatment of the Old Testament 
books. According to Eusebius, Origen wrote twelve 
books of commentary on Genesis, eight of which 
were completed at Alexandria and the rest at Caesa¬ 
rea. Jerome states that these books were thirteen in 
number, including two of mystical homilies. The 
majority of these homilies survived in a l atin trans¬ 
lation by Rufinus, though they fall short in details 
about Exodus and Leviticus. Cassiodorus mentions 
four homilies on Deuteronomy. Twenty-six homilies 
on Joshua were composed by Origen later in his 
life. Numerous other homilies on Judges, Kings, 
Samuel, and Job appear in Rufinus’ Latin transla¬ 
tion. The homilies on Psalms and Proverbs, partly 
written before leaving Alexandria, were elaborated 
and completed in Caesarea. Origen wrote a small 
treatise on Song of Solomon. Cassiodorus en¬ 
umerates forty-five homilies on Jeremiah. Ezekiel 

emerges in twenty-nine books comprising twelve 
homilies. Jerome has preserved some of Origen's 
notes on Daniel, and extensive commentaries on 
the minor prophets have survived in twenty-five 
books cited by Eusebius. These homilies consisted 
largely of the intrinsic interpretation of each book. 

The cumulative studies of the Old Testament are 
exemplified in Origen’s monumental compilation 
the Hexapla, the Greek term for “sixfold." For the 
first time in the history of the Bible, this fabulous 
edition of the Old Testament comprised the Hebrew 
text in Hebrew and Greek letters and the Greek 
texts of Aquila, Symmachus, the Scptuagint, and 
Theodotion reproduced in six parallel columns. In 
certain sections three further Greek texts were 
quoted in three additional columns, making the 
whole in nine columns. Saint Jerome states that he 
used the original of this enormous work in Caesa¬ 
rea, though only fragments have survived to mod¬ 
ern times. 

On the New Testament, it may be deduced from 
the fragmentary evidence available in Eusebius and 
elsewhere that much was accomplished by Origen, 
though concrete remains are sparse. On Matthew, 
Eusebius informs us that Origen completed twenty- 
five books, probably around 245-246, and this is 
confirmed by Saint Jerome. Fifteen books contain¬ 
ing thirty-nine homilies appear on Mark, four books 
on Luke, and thirty-two books on John. On Acts, 
seventeen homilies are known to have survived in 
Greek, and the commentaries on the Epistles to the 
Romans figured in fifteen books. On Corinthians I 
and II, Origen’s commentaries are recorded in elev¬ 
en homilies, Galatians in seven homilies of fifteen 
books, and Ephesians in three books. For the rest, 
one book appears on Philippians, two on 
Colossians, one on Titus, and one on Philemon. 
Thessalonians is represented in three books of two 
homilies, while Hebrews is the subject of eighteen 
homilies; but the treatment on the Catholic Epistles 
as well as the Apocalypse is uncertain and may not 
have been fulfilled by Origen as the end of his life 

On the second category, Origen’s dogmatic writ¬ 
ings, he treats the subject of the Resurrection in 
two books and a dialogue in two other books pre¬ 
ceded by his philosophical treatise On First Princi¬ 
ples, which seems to have excited opposition from 
writers such as Methodius and Saint Jerome. Writ¬ 
ten while he was still in Alexandria, the First Princi¬ 
ples represents the most complete of Origen’s phil¬ 
osophical opinions, intended for scholars rather 
than simple believers, for those who were familiar 
with the doctrines of Gnosticism and the teachings 

1854 ORIGEN: Origen's Writings 

of Platonism. This treatise, intended as a system of 
Christian doctrine or a philosophy of Christian 
faith, consists of four books. The first treats the final 
elements of religious philosophy, God, the world, 
and rational creatures. In the second book Origen 
elaborates the view that the visible world is a place 
of discipline and preparation. In the third book, he 
discusses the moral basis of his system. The fourth 
deals with its dogmatic basis. 

In the subsequent categories, before leaving Alex¬ 
andria, Origen wrote ten books of a miscellaneous 
character in which he discussed a variety of sub¬ 
jects in the light of Holy Scripture and of ancient 
philosophy. Included in its extant fragments are 
commentaries on the history of Susanna and Bel. 

Of Origen's epistles and letters, known to number 
more than 100, though most are lost, the one ad¬ 
dressed to Julius Africanus, written from Nico- 
media around 240, appears to be of some signifi¬ 
cance because it contributes a reply to Julius' ob¬ 
jections to the authenticity of the story of Susanna. 
Most of his letters, addressed to bishops, to schol¬ 
ars, and even to one emperor and his queen, all 
lost, would have enriched our knowledge of his life 
and his defense of orthodoxy. 

Perhaps the most important of this miscellany is 
a series of eight books written against Celsus. In his 
opposition to Christianity, Celsus puts his argument 
in the mouth of a Jew. Origen simply follows the 
arguments of Celsus systematically, in three parts: 
the controversy of the history of Christianity (books 
I and II), the controversy on the general character 
as well as the idea of Christianity (books III—V), 
and the controversy of the relations of Christianity 
to philosophy, popular religion, and national life 
(books VI-VIII). Origen refutes Celsus’s thesis 
point by point, working his way toward the estab¬ 
lishment of the moral power of Christianity, its uni¬ 
versality, and its fitness for mankind. 

In the category of Origen's practical writings, his 
prayer addressed to Ambrosius and Tatiana speaks 
of the efficacy of praying. Here his statements 
abound in beautiful thoughts. Prayers are to be ren¬ 
dered only to the Father and through Jesus to the 

Of Origen’s miscellaneous works, his book Exhor¬ 
tation to Martyrdom is the most pathetic. Addressing 
Ambrosius and Theoctitus, a presbyter of Caesarea, 
incarcerated during the persecution of Maximinus 
(235-238), Origen reminisces on his experiences as 
a boy with his father's martyrdom and as a man 
with the multitude of Christians led to the gallows. 
His agonizing statements are meant to strengthen 

the believers who pledged to endurance. The blood 
of the martyrs is not spilled in vain; it is destined to 
gain others for the true faith. 

Finally there is the Philocalia, a book of extracts 
of “choice thoughts" of Origen, compiled by grego 
ry of nazianzus and Basil and addressed to Theodo¬ 
sius, bishop of Tyrana, around 382. The interest of 
this work, apart from the intrinsic excellence of its 
quotations, lies in the exposition ol the place of the 
Catholic saints in Origen's teaching. Moreover, the 
Philocalia deals with subjects such as the inspira¬ 
tion of divine Scripture, Scripture as a perfect in¬ 
strument of God, the special character of the per¬ 
sons in Scripture, the clarification of inaccuracies 
or obscurities in some scriptural phrases, the pas¬ 
sages of Scripture that trouble heretics with ill- 
advised difficulties, the dark riddles and parables of 
the Scriptures, a reply to the Greek philosophers 
who disparage the poverty of style in the Scriptures, 
free will and fate, and a host of other questions and 
selections from Origen's vast heritage. 

It is not easy to make a full evaluation ol Origen's 
writings, for the simple reason that what survives 
from them is an infinitesimal fraction of the total. 
Nevertheless, even from the fragmentary remains of 
his works, in addition to the surviving translations 
of a limited number of his lost treatises by great 
and historic personalities such as Rufinus, Saint Je¬ 
rome, and others, the modern scholar stands in awe 
and bewilderment at Origen's accomplishments. In 
the field of biblical studies alone, he is accredited 
with more contributions than any other man in 
history. Among other major contributions, he is 
known to have been the founder of a school of 
interpretation as well as the textual editor ol the 
Old Testament in Hebrew and Greek. His many 
books on the New Testament, in the form of com¬ 
mentaries or homiletics, are beyond all recognition. 
This article gives a mere bird's-eye view of what is 
traceable from his monumental writings. It is easy 
for any scholar to apply the canons of modern re¬ 
search to minor points of his work and to issue a 
critique of some of his detailed pronouncements. 
Whereas this is to be expected in the incalculable 
mass of writing left by him, the fact remains that he 
has done more than any other person for practical¬ 
ly all departments of religious studies. Controver¬ 
sies have arisen from his writings, as have numer¬ 
ous schools of thought for and against his thought. 
Even in his lifetime, he was assailed by ecclesiasti¬ 
cal authorities for some of his doctrines that the 
church repudiated. But this should not minimize 
the immensity of his contributions or reduce his 


place as the greatest mentor of the Christian faith in 
classical antiquity. We must remember dial Origen 
the theologian lived in a transitional age, in the 
formative centuries of theological science. Thus it 
would be a grave error to judge his labors on the 
basis of developed theological systems of the mod¬ 
ern age. The reader has to remember that Origen 
was the greatest builder of Christian letters at a 
time when religious scholarship was still in its in¬ 


Altancr, B. Patrology, trans. H. C. Graef. London, 

Cadiou, R. Introduction an systeme d'Origenc. Paris. 

- La jeunesse d'Origenc—Histoirc de I'ecole 

d'Alexandria an debut du III ' si&cle. Paris, 1935. 
Dani&lou, J. Origkne. Paris, 1948. 

Denis, J. J. De la philosophic d'Origenc. Paris, 1884. 
Faye, E. de. Origene, sa vie, son oeuvre, sa pens&e, 3 
vols. Paris, 1923-1928. Trans. E. Rothwell as Ori¬ 
gen and His Work. London, 1926. 

Hanson, R. P. C. Origen's Doctrine of Tradition. 
London, 1954. 

Harnack, A. von. History of Dogma, trans. N. Bu¬ 
chanan, 7 vols. Boston, 1895-1900. 

- Der kirchengeschichtlichc Ertrag der exegeti- 

schen Arbeiten des Origenes, 2 Vols. I-eipzig, 1918- 

Oulton, J. E. L., and H. Chadwick. Alexandrian 
Christianity. Library of Christian Classics. Phila¬ 
delphia, 1956. 

Ouasten, J. Patrology , 3 vols. Utrecht and Antwerp, 

Tixeront, J. History of Dogmas, 3 vols., trans. H. L. 
B. St. Louis, 1910-1916. 

Westcott, B. F. "Origenes." In DCB 4. pp. 96-142. 
Repr. New York, 1974. 

A/i/. S. Atiya 


troversies that flared up around certain doctrines 
propagated by, or attributed to, origen in his vast 
written heritage—most of which survives only in 
fragmentary form—must be studied as a minor as¬ 
pect of his work rather than as central to the whole 
of it. Even though condemned by certain synods 
and general councils, his errors constitute but an 
infinitesimal part of the life and work of the great¬ 
est religious mentor of all time. It is surprising to 
read THEOPHILUS, patriarch of Alexandria from 385 
to 412, who was originally a firm adherent of Ori¬ 

gen but later wrote in one of his festal letters that 
Origen was the "hydra of heresies." This occurred 
after the condemnation of Origcnism by the Coun¬ 
cil of Alexandria in 400. Notwithstanding the oppo¬ 
sition of his erstwhile supporters and pupils, such 
as Jerome and Theophilus, Origen was not repudi¬ 
ated by many in the Coptic hierarchy, such as the 
Tall Brothers, who took refuge in Constantinople 
with so eminent a personality as Saint John Chrys¬ 
ostom. Among his other formidable supporters were 
Saints Pamphylius, ATHANASIUS, BASIL, and GREGORY 
OF nazianzus, as well as the great didymus the 
blind, who attempted to show that Origen was an 
orthodox trinitarian. 

It must be noted, however, that the hostility of 
the reigning pope at Alexandria, DEMETRIUS I (189— 
231), was incurred by Origen's acquisition of priest¬ 
hood from the Palestinian bishops in a manner con¬ 
trary to the established tradition of Alexandria. An¬ 
other reason was his doctrinal differences with the 
church authorities. He suffered exile from Egypt to 
Palestine, where he established his own school and 
concentrated on the writing of his monumental lit¬ 
erary output. The points raised by his opponents 
came into focus in the Latin translation of his De 
principiis, translated by Rufinus. One of the first 
points raised by the anti-Origenists was Origen's 
teaching that the scriptures should be interpreted 
only allegorically. His trinitarian doctrine also 
aroused opposition by its apparent subordination- 
ism. In his Treatise on Prayer, he preached that 
prayer should be addressed only to the Father, who 
is the total and absolute truth, whereas the Son and 
the Holy Ghost are only relative truths. He also 
contended that all spirits are created equal and 
that, through the exercise of their free will, they 
become incarcerated in the human body, which, by 
falling into sin, may turn into a demon. Neverthe¬ 
less, all will be mystically saved in the end. Origen's 
philosophical speculations and theological concepts 
appear to be in a continuous state of flux, and his 
mystical thinking is often obscured by the fragmen¬ 
tary nature of his pronouncements. His doctrine of 
the preexistence of the soul and the dual nature 
(corporal and spiritual) of all beings aroused much 

Much of Origen's mysticism and theological spec¬ 
ulation became the subject of controversy in a 
number of formal councils held in his lifetime, but 
the Origenist controversies outlived his time, and in 
542 the Council of CONSTANTINOPLE enumerated 
what the bishops regarded as Origen's aberrations. 
His opponents succeeded in obtaining an imperial 


edict from Justinian, commanding the convening of 
a second Council of Constantinople in 543, where 
again an imperial letter of refutation of Origcnist 
errors was condoned by Pope Vigilius. All the bish¬ 
ops approved its contents except Alexander of Abi- 
la, who was deposed. The Origcnist controversies 
became a closed chapter for all time, and Origen 
could be examined in a more sympathetic spirit in 
the light of his immense role as one of the greatest 
mentors in the development of Egyptian and world 


Dickamp, F. Die origenistischen Streitigkeiten ini 
sechsten Jahrhundert und das fttnfte allgemeine 
Konzii MUnster, 1899. 

Radford, L. B. Three Teachers of Alexandria — The- 
agnosias, Pierius and Peter: A Study in the Early 
History of Origenism and Anti-Origenism. Cam¬ 
bridge, 1980. 

Aziz $. Atiya 

OSTRACINE. See Khirbat al-Filusiyyah. 

OSTRACON, in the Hellenic period a shard or an 
animal's shoulder blade. It was employed in a city- 
state’s assembly when a vote of ostracism was tak¬ 
en, and was customarily the writing material for 
non literary documents, particularly those of an eco¬ 
nomic character. In the later Roman and Byzantine 
eras, in Egypt the ostracon came to be utilized in a 
far wider range of recording functions. The types of 
substances used became more numerous, including 
smooth limestone chips (especially in Upper Egypt, 
where they were abundant). Most published and 
known Coptic ostraca date from 500 to 800. 

The wide variety of functions that ostraca served, 
as well as their significance, can be amply docu¬ 
mented by citing a few brief examples. Of the bibli¬ 
cal texts on ostraca, more than half of the published 
pieces are quoted from the Psalter, a clear illustra¬ 
tion of the importance of worship, enriched by 
song, among Copts in the late Byzantine era. Homi¬ 
lies and sermons, whose most frequent form of ad¬ 
dress was hortatory, concerned social and theologi¬ 
cal subjects. For example, one ostracon exhorted 
unity in a congregation riven with schism (Crum. 
1902, no. 14). The lists and accounts inventory a 
broad variety of items: money paid, goods sold or 

delivercd, names of persons and places, books, 
churches, months, names of animals, and glossaries 
of Greek and Coptic terms (e.g., Crum, 1902, nos. 
434, 469; Galling, 1966). Personal letters, frequently 
in almost illegible handwriting, discuss anything 
from marriage, divorce, and family-related issues to 
situations that involved civil magistrates, ecclesiasti¬ 
cal officials, and others. A common focus of such 
letters was concern for the welfare of the poor 
(e.g., Crum and Evelyn-White, 1926, no. 165). 

Since the scriptures were often cited in such 
works urging the recipient to action, one can visual¬ 
ize how the Bible and religious sentiment were em¬ 
ployed in contacts between people, whether of high 
or low station. Legal and commercial texts, distin¬ 
guished by the appearance of the names of witness¬ 
es at the bottom, include tax receipts, acknowledg¬ 
ments of loans, wills, rental agreements, and even 
guarantees of local safety for travelers (e.g., Crum, 
1902, nos. 108, 145, 147, 160-63, 166, 206; Crum 
and Evelyn-White, 1926, nos. 87, 93). Ecclesiastical 
documents, encompassing fines levied by clerics, 
liturgical calendars, episcopal edicts, homilies, and 
circular letters, portray the relationships of ecclesi¬ 
astical officials with others and serve to underscore 
the significant influence of church officials in Egyp¬ 
tian society. 

Shards also were utilized as sketch pads on which 
artisans drew designs to be employed on the walls 
and floors of ecclesiastical buildings. 


Crum, W. E. Coptic Ostraca from the Collection of 
the Egyptian Exploration hand, the Cairo Museum, 
and Others. London, 1902. 

Crum, W. E., and H. G. Evelyn-White, eds. The Mon¬ 
astery of Epiphanius at Thebes, Pt. 2, Coptic and 
Greek Ostraca and Papyri. New York, 1926. 
Galling, K. “Datum und Sinn der graeco-koptischen 
Mtihlenostraka im Lichte neuer Belege aus Jeru¬ 
salem." Zeitschrift des Deutschen Paldstina- 
Vereins 82 (1966):46-56. 

Stefanski, E., and M. Lichtheim. Coptic Ostraca 
from Medinel Hahu. University of Chicago Orien¬ 
tal Institute Publications 71. Chicago, 1952. 

S. Kent Brown 

the lapse of Mamluk rule in Egypt and the conquest 
of the country by the Turks under Sultan Selim I in 
1517, the Copts entered a new chapter in their his- 



tory of painful survival. Their community had been 
depleted by recurrent persecutions, during which a 
considerable number perished. Many others con¬ 
verted to Islam because of great pressure from the 
authorities and the desire to continue earning a 
respectable livelihood. It is said that their total 
number around the end of the eighteenth century 
sank to a mere 150,000 out of a total Egyptian 
population of 3 million. While 600,000 had paid 
their tithe to the Coptic patriarch immediately after 
the ARAB CONOtJHST OF EGYPT, at this period only 
15,000 are known to have done this. According to 
the European travelers visiting the country in the 
seventeenth century (Tajir, 1951, pp. 203-203), the 
number of bishops had dropped from seventy in 
the seventh century to twelve, mainly posted in 
Upper Egypt, in 1671. Coptic monks were limited to 
four monasteries, of which the most important were 

DAYR ANBA maoAr in Wadi al-Natrun and DAYR ANI3A 


antOniyOs in the Eastern Desert. Though extremely 
pious, their religion was restricted to the reiteration 
of the liturgies; the high theological scholarship of 
the fathers of the church had disappeared. 

Nonetheless, in general, the Copts retained their 
scribal skills and their acumen in matters of finance 
and taxation, which rendered their services neces¬ 
sary for the Mamluk beys remaining under an Otto¬ 
man governor, whose title was pasha. It is doubtful 
whether the sultan's court at Constantinople was 
even aware of the existence of the Coptic minority 
in so distant a colony as Egypt. All the governors of 
the country cared about was sending the land and 
poll taxes to Constantinople and filling their own 
pockets with substantial additional taxes forcibly 
levied on the helpless subjects, of whom the Chris¬ 
tians were an easy prey. On the whole, however, 
the neglect of the reduced Coptic community had a 
positive aspect, for it enabled the Copts to lead a 
relatively peaceful life within their churches, unob¬ 
served and unimpaired in the period extending 
from 1517 to 1798—that is, from the Ottoman inva¬ 
sion to the advent of the French expedition under 

It should be noted that the Copts were deeply 
rooted in their native country and hated emigration 
or even temporary absence from their birthplaces. 
Thus, when, in September 1699, the consul general 
of France, M. de Mail let, offered scholarships for 
three Coptic youngsters to go to France for their 
education, he found it most difficult to find candi¬ 
dates, even among the poorest families. 

During this period, the relations of the Copts with 

Europe centered on the advent of Catholic missions 
to work on attracting the Coptic church to Roman 
obedience. Though it looked at times as if the proj¬ 
ect of reunion could succeed, in the end it failed. 
Perhaps the only positive outcome from this move¬ 
ment was the establishment of mission schools, 
which offered young Copts European education 
long before the reform movement of CYRII. IV (1854- 

In the early years of Ottoman rule, one finds no 
illustrious names of Copts who occupied significant 
positions in the administration. Nevertheless, prior 
to the French expedition, a few names of great 
eminence emerged among the Copts and were re¬ 
ported by Muslim chroniclers. Most significant 
among these was ihrAiiIm al-JAWHARI, who became 
head of the administration of the offices of the pow¬ 
erful Mamluk amir Ibrahim Bey, who depended on 
Jawharl in expediting all his finances and grieved 
for his death; al-Jabart! (1941, Vol. 2, p. 262) said 
that the amir condescended to attend his funeral at 
Oasr al-'Ayni in 1797. 

In fact, the Copts, who were restricted to the 
routine scribal functions in the secondary offices of 
the surviving Mamluk beys, began once more to 
shine under the French occupation on account of 
their education and proficiency in the French lan¬ 


Jabarti ('Abd al-Rahman), al-. Al-Tdrikh al-MusanvnQ 
'Aja'ih al-Athar // al-Tar&jim wa-al-Akhbar, 4 vols. 
Cairo. 1941. 

ThC’venol, J. de. Relation d'un voyage fait an Levant. 
Paris. 1665. 

Vansleb, J. M, Nonvelle Relation en /urine de jour¬ 
nal d’un voyage /ait en Egypte en 1672 el 1673. 
Paris, 1677. Translated as The Present State u/ 
Egypt. London, 1678. 

Aziz S. Atiya 


OXYRHYNCHUS. See Monasteries of the Lower 

the name of the chief town of an ancient district in 


Middle Egypt, on ihe west bank of the Bahr Yusuf 
west of the Nile, at modern Bahnasa. So called by 
the Greeks after a fish worshiped there, it became 
famous particularly through the exc avations for pa¬ 
pyri carried out by B. P. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt in 
the winter of 1896-1897 and in the years 1903- 
1907. The excavations were so productive that this 
site is first in Egypt for its yields of papyrus. The 
papyri are chiefly Greek documents and literary 
texts from the time of Augustus down to the eighth 
century, which are currently being published in the 
series Oxyrhynchus Papyri. The literary finds are of 
particular importance. In addition to the Greek 
texts, there are texts in Hebrew and Syriac, but only 
a few in Coptic have become known (Crum, 1927; 
Kahle, 1954; Quecke, 1974). 


Bell, H. I. Egypt from Alexander the Great to the 
Arab Conquest. Oxford, 1948. 

Crum, W. F.. "Some Further Melctian Documents.” 
Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 13 (1927):25f. 

Fikhman, I. F. Oksirinkh. Moscow, 1976. 

Kahle, P. E. Bala'izah 1, p. 236, n. 2. London, 1954. 

Oxyrhynchus Papyri. London, 1898-; 55 vols. to 

Preisendanz, K. Papyrusfunde und Papyrus/or- 
schung, esp. pp. 137-41. Leipzig, 1933. 

Quecke, H. In Papiri della University degli Studi di 
Milano, Vol. 5, pp. 87ff. Milan, 1974. 

Turner, E. G. "Roman Oxyrhynchus.” Journal of 
Egyptian Archaeology 38 (1952):78—93. 

Gunter Poethke 

PACHOMIUS, SAINT (292-346), founder of ce- 
nobitic monasticism (feast day: 14 Bashans). He 
was born of pagan parents in Upper Egypt. His first 
contact with Christianity occurred in 312, when he 
was a conscript in the Roman army. As a soldier, 
he experienced great acts of charity from a local 
community of Christians whose members brought 
him relief while he was taken prisoner during that 
time. This forever marked his understanding of 
Christianity. From that time he committed himself 
to serve mankind. The notion of service to God and 
to all his brothers was a capital feature of his spirit¬ 
uality for the rest of his life. 

As soon as he was released from the army, Pa- 
chomius settled in a small village called Sheneset 
(Chenoboskion), where there was a Christian com¬ 
munity into which he was baptized. He devoted 
himself to the service of others in several ways. He 
was a born community builder, and evei-y time he 
settled somewhere, his personality attracted people 
who availed themselves of his goodness and came 
closer to him. 

After three years of this life of service, Pachomius 
became one of the disciples of palamon, an old man 
who lived as an ascetic some distance from Shene¬ 
set. From him he learned the forms of asceticism 
that Palamon himself had inherited from an older 
tradition: the practice of fasting, vigils, continuous 
prayer, manual work, and alms. 

Seven years later Pachomius felt called to settle 
in an abandoned village called Tabennese, a call 
that was recognized as authentic by Palamon. Noth¬ 
ing in the Life of Pachomius causes us to think that 
Pachomius then thought of founding a new form of 
monasticism, and still less that he had perceived 
the dangers of eremitism that could be avoided by 
the new rule of cenobitic life. He went to Ta¬ 

bennese simply to pursue his ascetic way of life. 
But, as in Sheneset, several men and women con¬ 
gregated around him in the village that had been 
abandoned when Pachomius arrived. 

The idea of elaborating a new form of spiritual 
fatherhood did not occur to Pachomius. He simply 
put himself at the service of all his companions, 
taking care of their needs until he found it neces¬ 
sary to organize the emerging community into a 
soil of cooperative brotherhood. After several years 
Pachomius stalled laying down rules of common 
work, common meals, and common prayers in the 
image of the primitive church in Jerusalem. These 
rules were unpopular with his followers, so they 
rebelled against him and were expelled. This repre¬ 
sented a failure, and Pachomius thus learned a les¬ 
son. Consequently, when other disciples came, he 
did not become their servant, but decided to orga¬ 
nize them into a community of service in which 
each would be responsible for all the others. That 
ideal of mutual service is at the root of the nascent 
Pachomian koittonia (community) and constitutes 
the essence of his spirituality. 

When he set up his new koinonia, Pachomius was 
not aware that he was founding a new form of 
monastic life. Nevertheless, it was clear to his con¬ 
temporaries, as well as to his biographers, that he 
gave to the monastic phenomenon an absolutely 
original expression that would be a resounding suc¬ 
cess, and that was destined to influence the evolu¬ 
tion of monastic religious life until modern times. 

Gradually, without Pachomius' planning it, a style 
of life, a polileia, emerged. It was inspired to a 
great extent, especially from the point of view of 
the material setup of the community, by the organi¬ 
zation of the contemporary Coptic villages. Gradu¬ 
ally a distinction was made between those who ac- 



cepied the life of integral sharing and mutual 
service under a monastic rule, and the other men 
and women who had come to live in the village ol 
Sheneset and now constituted a secular Christian 
community. Such a Christian community probably 
had not existed at Tabcnnese before, and Pacho- 
mius built a church that served both segments of 
the whole Christian population, as long as the 
monks were not so numerous as to require a sepa¬ 
rate church within the precincts of the monastery. 
A separate church came at a later stage in the evo¬ 
lution of the community, and then another had to 
be constructed for the convent of nuns assembled 
in the same village around the sister ol Pachomius. 

After these difficult beginnings, the growth and 
the evolution of the koinonia accelerated. Soon the 
monks were so numerous that a new foundation 
had to be made at PBOW. The new system had so 
much appeal that some spiritual fathers who had 
disciples living around them began to ask Pacho¬ 
mius to organize their communities according to 
the form of life taught him by the Lord. Some bish¬ 
ops asked Pachomius to introduce this way of life 
into their dioceses. 

Pachomius felt a pastoral responsibility toward all 
these communities, a responsibility he decided to 
share with several assistants, on both the spiritual 
and the material level. 

In 346, when Pachomius died, there were some 
5,000 monks in nine monasteries (plus the nuns in 
their two convents) to mourn him and to continue 
the life of the koinonia. He was a man of prayer 
who knew scripture practically by heart and com¬ 
mented on it indefatigably to his disciples. Though 
very demanding in his way of life, he had a great 
understanding of human weakness and a very keen 
pastoral sense. He was not a theoretician of monas¬ 
tic life but a man of praxis. The living community 
that he left behind him taught many generations of 
monks and nuns much more than all the books of 
spirituality he could have written. His disciples left 
a very detailed description of his spiritual journey 
and of his activity as a founder. 

Biographies of Saint Pachomius 

Shortly after the death of Pachomius. his Life was 
written by brothers who had known him and had 
learned about the beginnings of the koinonia 
through the accounts of THEODORUS OF TABENNfcSE 
and of the founder's other early disciples. Collec¬ 
tions of his instructions to the brothers and various 
short narratives probably had been assembled even 

That Life of Pachomius was often copied, translat¬ 
ed. rearranged, and combined with other sources in 
various types of compilations. It has been transmit¬ 
ted in many forms, in Sahidic, Bohairic, Greek, and 
Arabic. We must also include in the corpus of the 
Life a document called the Paralipomena, which 
was composed in Greek and is known to exist in a 
Syriac version as well. 

The Coptic Lives. The whole Coptic corpus was 
published by L. T. LEFOKT, who also made a French 
translation of it. It comprises fragments ol several 
versions or copies of the Sahidic Life and an almost 
complete Bohairic Life (Bo). The Coptic Lile ol 
Pachomius was evidently written in Sahidic, the di¬ 
alect of Upper Egypt, but it is in the Bohairic ver¬ 
sion that the most popular and "standard" Coptic 
Life has been preserved in its most complete form. 
This is a rendering of the recension represented by 
the fragments S 4 , S 5 , and S 14 (SBo). The Arabic Life 
in the Vatican (Av) is an acceptable translation of 
that original Coptic recension. The fragments S : ‘\ 
S‘, and S 7 belong to the same group, although they 
have their own characteristics. 

Fragments of a few other Coptic Lives are extant 
in the Sahidic dialect, some of which appear to be 
very old. Through the first Sahidic Life (S 1 ) we 
probably have the most primitive Pachomian tradi¬ 
tion. It contains more vivid and original data than 
the corresponding narratives in other recensions. 
In particular, it tells in detail about Pachomius' 
initial project of founding a cenobitic community 
with the people who had joined him at Tabcnnese, 
and about the failure of his first attempt, file third 
Sahidic Life (S H ) seems to have been a large compi¬ 
lation integrating sections of S ] along with sections 
of SBo, and it is possible to use it to restore some 
missing passages of S 1 . The two other fragmentary 
Lives, S z and S 10 , are loo mutilated to incorporate 
into the Pachomian corpus. 

The Greek Lives. Of the eight Greek Lives extant, 
the most important is obviously the first Greek Life 
(G 1 ), which has a great deal in common with the 
Coptic Life of the SBo recension. Of great impor¬ 
tance is another document called the Paralipomena, 
comprising a collection of stories about Pachomius 
and Theodorus. All the other Greek Lives are in one 
way or another a fresh elaboration of the material 
found in G 1 and the Paralipomena . In 1932 Halkin 
published the six Lives known at that time. In 1982 
he published two more Lives, which complete the 
Greek coipus although they add little substance to 
the others. In 1932, for his publication of G 1 and 
Paralipomena, he used both the Florence manu¬ 
script and a few fragments existing at the Biblioteca 



Ambrosiana. He was unable to use the Athens man¬ 
uscript that gives the full text of G 1 , Paralipomena, 
and Epistula Ammonia. Hal kin later produced a 
splendid edition of the Athens manuscript, the text 
of which slightly modifies that of the Florence man¬ 
uscript from a stylistic point of view, without alter¬ 
ing its content. 

The Latin Life of Pachomius translated by Diony¬ 
sius Exiguus at the beginning of the sixth century 
must be mentioned in connection with the Greek 
corpus because of its close relationship to G 2 . It is 
still disputed among scholars whether the Greek 
text used by him was a source of G* or a text having 
G 2 as its source. 

The Arabic Lives. There are several manuscripts 
of the Life of Pachomius in Arabic, but none of 
them has yet been the object of a critical edition. It 
is obvious that all the Lives of Pachomius in Arabic 
are late translations, but some of them may have 
preserved texts lost in the original Coptic. They 
may be classified in three categories: 

1. Translation from Coptic. This applies to AV 
(Vatican Library, Arabic codex no. 172). which ap¬ 
pears to be the true version of a Sahidic Life of the 
SBo recension, and to Ag (Gottingen, University Li¬ 
brary, MS no. 116). 

2. Translation from Greek. There are many such 
manuscripts, the most important being Paris, Na¬ 
tional Library, MS 261 (Ap). An edition printed at 
Cairo in 1891 (Ac) was probably based on a very 
similar manuscript. This Arabic category was de¬ 
rived from the third Greek life. 

3. Arabic compilation. One of these compilations, 
published by E. Amelincau in 1889, consists of an 
Arabic Life similar to Ag, complemented by an Ara¬ 
bic rendering of parts of G H . 

For well nigh half a century, the scholarly dia¬ 
logue concentrated on the argument over whether 
the priority in these Lives belongs to the Coptic 
originals or the Greek recensions. Comparing Bo 
and G\ it was easy for the editors of G 1 to find good 
reasons to believe in its priority over the Coptic 
Lives, and vice versa. Nowadays it is accepted that 
SBo cannot be considered a translation of G\ and 
vice versa. In fact, both these documents retain 
their particular value and importance. However, it 
is obvious that they have many points in common, a 
fact that indicates that probably they were derived 
from a common source. On the other hand, each 
retained its own characteristic mode of using the 
same material. 

It is our belief that a close comparison of SBo, 
G 1 , and Ag could throw new light on the existing 
problem. Ag has practically all the stories found in 

SBo and G 1 , up to the time of the death of Pacho¬ 
mius, where it stops. But these stories are pre¬ 
sented in different orders. The points of contact are 
such (sometimes SBo agreeing with Ag against G 1 
and sometimes G* agreeing with Ag against SBo) 
that Ag cannot be considered a translation or a 
fresh elaboration of either SBo or G 1 . Our convic¬ 
tion is that when the definitive critical edition of Ag 
has been compiled, it will be easy to demonstrate 
that Ag is possibly the translation of a Sahidic origi¬ 
nal text that could have served as a common source 
for both SBo and G 1 . That source probably stopped 
at the death of Pachomius. In the long part that 
follows the death of Pachomius, covering the devel¬ 
opment of the koinonia up to the death of Theo- 
dorus, the parallelism of the data offered by SBo 
and G 1 begins to disappear and the various Coptic 
versions become much less homogeneous. 

Despite the complexity of the documents, which 
must be taken into account, the Life of Pachomius 
remains the main source of information not only 
for the early evolution of Pachomian cenobitism 
but also for Pachomian spirituality. Even from this 
point of view it is more reliable than the Rules we 
possess in a form that witnesses to a later evolution 
of the koinonia, which are simply lists of practical 
regulations rather than a spiritual program. 

Rules of Saint Pachomius 

When Pachomius wanted to transform into a 
community the group of men who had come to live 
with him at Tabenndsfc and whom he had served for 
a few years, he drew up a series of rules that he 
took from the scriptures (S 1 , 11 and 17). Later, 
when his sister decided to live the monastic life and 
was joined by other women, he sent them the rules 
he had written for the brothers (SBo, 27; G 1 , 32). 
When he founded new monasteries or adopted ex¬ 
isting communities into the koinonia, Pachomius 
established in the new foundations the same rules 
as in the monastery of Tabenn^se (SBo, 4911'.; G 1 , 
54.81). These rules were certainly not a set text. 
They constantly evolved with the evolution of the 
koinonia, during the lifetime of Pachomius as well 
as under his successors. 

In 404 Saint JEROME translated into Latin four 
series of precepts that he called the "Rule of Pa¬ 
chomius'’ and that, along with other documents at¬ 
tributed to Pachomius and his disciples Theodorus 
and horsiesios. came from the monastery of METAN- 
oia (Canopus) near Alexandria, where Pachomian 
monks had been brought by Patriarch THEOPH1LUS. 
The books were in Coptic, but Jerome translated 



them from a Greek translation made for him. Very 
important sections of the Coptic texts of these rules 
have been discovered and published during the 
twentieth century. A Greek version probably existed 
very early for the use of the Greek-speaking monks 
who did not know Coptic. Unfortunately, no manu¬ 
script of that version has survived, but we have a 
collection of Greek excerpts that, like the short re¬ 
cension of Jerome's Latin version, represents an 
adaptation of the Pachoznian Rule to a monastic 
organization different from that of the Pachomian 
monasteries. The Rule of Pachomius is also found 
in several Ethiopian manuscripts, but these usually 
give three distinct documents: a translation of the 
famous "Rule of the Angel" from the Lausiac Histo¬ 
ry , a translation of the Greek excerpts, and a late 
Ethiopian compilation devoid of real value. 

The "Rule of the Angel" given by palladius in his 
Lausiac History, perhaps the best-known "Pachomi¬ 
an'' document in the manuscript tradition, has 
nothing in common with the authentic Pachomian 
rule, and cannot be considered a reliable source for 
the knowledge of Pachomian practices. 

In the complete text found in Jerome’s transla¬ 
tion, the Rule of Pachomius is composed of four 
distinct collections called Praecepta, Praecepta el 
instituta, Praecepta atque judicia, and Praecepta ac 
leges. The Praecepta atque judicia is a kind of peni¬ 
tential, measuring out the penances for various 
types of offenses. The Praecepta ac leges regulates 
the schedules in the individual houses or wards for 
every evening and deals with the responsibilities of 
the housemaster. The Praecepta et instituta is ad¬ 
dressed to the housemaster, who, with the monks of 
his house, was in charge of the weekly service in 
the general assembly of all the brothers. The Prae¬ 
cepta is by far the longest of these texts and the 
most composite in character. The repetitions and 
the various conclusions indicating dilferent blocks 
of rides show that the series was periodically com¬ 
plemented and expanded according to the new cir¬ 
cumstances of the koinonia. 

Attempts have been made to establish a chrono¬ 
logical order for the four sections of the Rule, and 
it has been claimed that the Praecepta et instituta is 
the most ancient collection and the Praecepta the 
latest. The whole argument, which remains uncon¬ 
vincing, starts from the postulate that one of these 
four collections must have been composed before 
the others, and that each should represent the state 
of Pachomian legislation at some specific point in 
history. Since they have different purposes, it seems 
much more natural to assume that they were paral¬ 
lel texts that evolved at one and the same time in 

different contexts, along with the development of 
the koinonia. Against the theory that the Praecepta 
et instituta was the first collection is the very strong 
argument that it refers very explicitly to existing 
sets of rules, one of them being in all probability 
the Praecepta —although perhaps an earlier and 
shorter version of it. 

Concerning the authenticity of these Rules this 
much can be said: Pachomius and Horsiesios wrote 
some groups of rules, and probably Thcodorus did 
the same. In 404, about sixty years alter the death 
of Pachomius, and probably more than ten to fif¬ 
teen years after that of Horsiesios, Jerome received 
the text of a Pachomian "Rule" to be translated 
into Latin. The text came from a monastery near 
Alexandria where some Tabennesiotes (Pachomian 
monks) had lived since about 390. These texts are 
therefore Pachomian in a broad sense of the word. 
How much and what part of them can claim Pacho¬ 
mius as their author, we do not know for certain, 
and none of the recent studies have brought any 
decisive light to the problem. We can assume that a 
small group of precepts was composed by Pacho¬ 
mius himself and that this core has been supple¬ 
mented by others over the years. But we have no 
means of knowing for sure which precepts are the 
most original. We also cannot rule out the possibili¬ 
ty that the text transmitted to Jerome from the 
Monastery of the Metanoia had undergone some 
modifications under the influence of the surround¬ 
ing monastic communities of Lower Egypt. As a 
whole these rules seem to suppose a state of evolu¬ 
tion later and more complex than that described in 
the Life of Pachomius in its early Coptic and even 
Greek versions. 

Instructions of Saint Pachomius 

Catechesis, instruction on the Holy Scriptures, 
was a very important feature of Pachomian cenob- 
itism. The housemaster delivered it to the monks of 
his house or ward twice a week, on the days of fast, 
and to the superior of the local monastery three 
times a week, on Saturday evening and twice on 
Sunday. Pachomius and his successors at the head 
of the koinonia also gave other instructions, either 
when they were visiting the brothers of the various 
monasteries or on special occasions like the cele¬ 
bration of the Passover at Pbow, or the general 
gathering of all the brothers at the end of the year. 
Several of the instructions of Pachomius have been 
inserted into the Life by the biographers. The man¬ 
uscript tradition also has preserved some of them 
as separate documents. In his Oeuvres de Pachfime 



et de ses premiers successeurs, L. T. Lcfort pub¬ 
lished a complete text of one of these instructions 
and the fragments of another. The latter was given 
to the brothers on the occasion of the Passover 
celebration. The first is a very long text into which 
a large quotation from a homily by saint athanasius 
has been integrated. These two documents, as well 
as all the cateeheses found in the Life, demonstrate 
a veiy great knowledge of scripture on the pan of 
Pachomius and a great pastoral experience. 

Letters of Saint Pachomius 

The corpus of Pachomian material translated into 
Latin by Jerome in 404 contained eleven letters, 
some of them making a ciyptic or "spiritual” use of 
the symbols of the Coptic alphabet. Until very re¬ 
cently these letters were known only in the Latin 
version, hut now the Greek and Coptic originals of 
the majority of them have been discovered and pub¬ 
lished. We possess the Coptic text of letters 8. 9a 
and 9b, 10, and 1 la and I lb (letters 9 and 11 in the 
translation of Jerome correspond to two different 
letters in the Coptic manuscripts). We also have a 
veiy old Greek translation of letters 1. 2, 3, 7, and 
10 from a manuscript of the Chester Beatty Library. 
After several preliminary studies, Hans Quecke pub¬ 
lished all these Coptic and Greek documents in 
1975, with a long technical introduction. 

One of the important questions concerning these 
letters is their Pachomian authenticity. They cer¬ 
tainly existed in Coptic at a very early stage, since 
we have a Greek translation preserved on a fourth- 
century parchment. From a comparison of Je¬ 
rome's version and the Coptic and Greek texts, it 
appears that Jerome had before him a Greek text 
veiy similar to the one preserved in the Chester 
Beatty Library. Jerome attributed the letters explic¬ 
itly to Pachomius, and Quecke does not find any 
positive reason to doubt that attribution. However, 
none of the letters, either in Greek or in Coptic, 
bears a title attributing it to Pachomius. A few pas¬ 
sages from these letters are quoted by Horsiesios 
and SHF.NUTE without any explicit reference to Pa¬ 
chomius. This seems to leave a certain margin of 
doubt concerning the attribution of the corpus to 
Pachomius himself, although there is no question 
concerning their provenance from a Pachomian mi¬ 

One of the letters (no. 5) is about the annual 
meeting of all the brothers for the Easter celebra¬ 
tion, and another (no. 7) about the other annual 
meeting in the month of Misra. The last three let¬ 
ters (9, 10, and 11) are about the things to come, 

and hence have a prophetic character. The rest 
seem to be spiritual exhortations. But none of them 
is easy to interpret, least of all those (nos. 1, 2, 3, 6, 
8, 9, and 11) that use a cryptic type of language. No 
satisfactory explanation has yet been given, and 
even Quecke, who has studied the question very 
thoroughly, was unable to find a clear answer. No 
demonstrable connection can be established with a 
similar use of the alphabet in various documents of 
the NAG HAMMADI LIBRARY. The Pachomian practice 
probably has something to do with the traditional 
love of the Egyptians for cryptograms, to which old 
Egyptian hieroglyphs lent themselves so well. 


Amclincau, E. Monuments pour servir a Vhistoire de 
I'Egyptc chretienne au IVc sieclc—Histoire de 
saint Pakhome et de ses communautes. Docu¬ 
ments copies et arubes in edits, publies et traduits 
par E. Amelineau, 2 vols. Annales du Mus6e Gui- 
met 17. Paris, 1889. 

Bacht, H. "Antonius und Pachomius. Von der Ana- 
chorese zum Conobitentum.” In Antonius magnus 
eremita, ed. Basilius Steidle; pp. 66-107. Studia 
Anselmiana 38. Rome, 1956. 

-"Pakhome—der grosse 'Adler.'” (deist und 

Leben. Zeitschrift fur Aszese und Mvstik 22 

_"Ein verkanntes Fragment des koptischen 

Pachomiusregel.” l.c Museon 75 (1962):5-18. 

-"PachOme et ses disciples.” Theologie de la 

vie monastique 49 (196l):39-71. 

Biedermann, H. M. "Die Regel des Pachomius und 
die evangelischen Rate.” Ostkirchlichc Studien 9 
(1960):241 -53. 

Boon, A. Pachomiana Latina. Regie et tpitres de s. 
PachOme, epitre de s. Theodore et " liber " de s. 
Orsiesius. Texte lalin de s. Jerome. Bibliothdque 
de la Revue d'Histoire Ecclc'siastique 7. Louvain, 

Chitty, Derwas J. "Pachomian Sources Reconsid¬ 
ered." The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 5 

-"Some notes, Mainly Lexical, on the Sourc¬ 
es for the Life of Pachomius." In Studia patris- 
tica, Vol. 5, pp. 266-269. Texte und Untersuchun- 
gen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur 
80. Berlin, 1962. 

-"Pachomian Sources Once More.” In Studia 

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Cranenburg, H. van. La Vie latine de saint PachOme 
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tique. Subsidia Hagiographica 46. Brussels, 1969. 
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chome en Occident.” In Melanges d'histoire du 
moyen age dedies a la memoire de Louis Halplicn, 
pp. 169-76. Paris, 1951. 


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tes d^rive-t-il d’une source copte?” Le Museon 57 
(1944):53-145; 58 (1945): 15-95. 

Festugiere, A.-J. Les moines d'Orient, Vol. 4, pt. 2, 
La Premiere vie grecque de saint Pachdme. Intro¬ 
duction critique et traduction. Paris, 1965. 

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fur Theologie und Kirche. Vol. 7 (1962), cols. 

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_ Le corpus athenien de saint Pachdme avec 

une traduction frangaise par A.-J. Festugiere. Ca- 
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(1937), cols. 499-510. 

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__ S. Pachomii vita bohairice script a. CSCO 89. 

Louvain, 1925. 

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99-100. Louvain, 1933-1934. 

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_“Confrontation entre les regies et la littera- 

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supplement 86 (1968):394-424. 

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Chronicles and Rules. Cistercian Studies Series 
46. Kalamazoo, Mich., 1981. 

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Akmand Vf.ii.leux 



second group of five brothers who came to Pacho¬ 
mius at Tabennese about A.D. 324 (SBo, 24; G\ 
26—the life of Pachomius known through the Bo- 
hairic version and several Sahidic fragments, and 
the first Greek life of Pachomius, respectively). Me 
is mentioned among the ancient brothers at the 
time of Pachomius' appointment of Theodorus as 
steward of Tabennese (c. 336-337). He was still 
alive in 368, at the time of the death of Theodorus, 
and was one of the ancient brothers who then 
urged horsiesios to speak some words of comfort 
to the brothers (SBo, 208). 

The monk named Pachomius mentioned in the 
fragment of a Coptic papyrus from Codex VII of the 
NAG hammadi library could be this Pachomius or 
any other monk with that name, either “Pachomi¬ 
an” or not. 

[See also: Monasticism, Pachomian.] 


Bacht, H. “Pachomius der Jungere.” In Lexikon fiir 
Theologie und Kirche, Vol. 7, col. 1331. Freiburg, 



Veilleux, A. "Pacomio il Giovane." In Bibliotheca 
sanctorum, Vol. 10, cols. 9-10 (1968). 

Armani) Veii.i.f.ux 

sister who were martyrs under Diocletian (feast 
day: 8 Kiyahk). The text of their Passion has sur¬ 
vived in one complete manuscript in Sahidic 
and in other fragments (Reymond-Barnes, 1973; cf. 
Browne, 1974). 

Paese was a rich property owner from Pousire, 
near Shmun; Tecla was his widowed sister. When 
the persecutions begin, they both visit the prisons 
to help the martyrs. On the invitation of Paul, a 
merchant friend, Paese goes to Alexandria, where 
he also helps the martyrs in prison. During this 
period Victor is brought to Alexandria. Seeing Vic¬ 
tor's torture, Paese confesses to the prefect Armeni- 
us that he too is a Christian and he is imprisoned. 
There follow scenes of courtroom argument, tor¬ 
ture, and miracles. 

Receiving no news of Paese, Tecla goes to Alex¬ 
andria to look for him. She is miraculously accom¬ 
panied on her journey by the Virgin Mary and an¬ 
gels. When she reaches Alexandria, she finds Paese 
in prison and comforts him and the other martyrs. 
Then she confesses her faith in court. After various 
other forms of torture, the two saints are handed 
over to Eutichian and taken to suffer martyrdom in 
Tepot. In the conclusion Julius of Aqfahs claims 
authorship of the text. 

This is a typical fictitious account from the late 
period of the Cycles, particularly of the type con¬ 
structed around the figure of Julius of Aqfahs. 


Baumcistcr, T. Martyr Invictus. Der Miirtyrer als Sin- 
nbild der Erldsung in der Legende und im Kult der 
frilhen koptischen Kirche, pp. 123-24. MUnster, 

Browne, G. M. The Martyrdom o\ Paese and Theda 
(P. Mich. Inv. 548). Das christliche Deutschland, 
Evangelischc Reihe 49. Freiburg, 1974. 

Reymond, E. A. W., and J. W. B. Barnes. Four Mar¬ 
tyrdoms from the Pierpont Morgan Coptic Codices. 
Oxford, 1973. 

Tito Orlandi 

EGYPT. During the Roman era the religious life 
of Egypt was characterized by great diversity. First, 

there was the traditional religion inherited from the 
pharaonic age. The theology and the rituals of the 
past were preserved by the priests in a number of 
pharaonic-style temples, such as those in Dandarah, 
Isna, Idfu, Kom Ombo, Philae, and Nubia, which 
had been reconstructed under the Ptolemies. Kar- 
nak and Luxor substantially retained their original 
form. Besides reliefs, the temples were decorated 
with hieroglyphic inscriptions written in a system 
that varied from temple to temple. These texts ap¬ 
peared to the ordinary Egyptians and Greeks to 
contain a mysterious wisdom, since for a long time 
only priests could read hieroglyphs. Indeed, it was 
in these temples that traditional theology found a 
last refuge. Astronomy, chemistry, alchemy, medi¬ 
cine, philology, and history also were pursued in 
the temples. 

While these temples were respected by the state 
authorities and the people, they had a limited effect 
on the development of beliefs during the Roman 
Rile. They represented isolated fortresses of the 
past in a transformed world. 

Second, the original form of Greek religion was 
in decline. Outside Alexandria the cult of Homeric 
gods retained importance in Naucratis, Oxyrhyn- 
chus, the Fayyum, and Ptolemais. The cult of the 
Dioscuri constituted a remarkable element. Since 
they did not have Egyptian counterparts, they re¬ 
mained untouched by any local influence. One of 
the last products of Greek epic, the Dionysiaca, a 
compendium of mythology, was composed by NO- 

Third, since Herodotus, the Greeks had discov¬ 
ered common features in Greek and Egyptian dei¬ 
ties and had linked them with each other, for 
instance, Osiris-Dionysus, Isis-Demeter, Isis-Aphro- 
dite, Horus-Apollo, Ammon-Zeus, Mut-Hera, Chon- 
su-Heracles, Thoth-Hermes. After Alexander the 
Great, the long coexistence of the two ethnic com¬ 
munities made these equations popular with the 
masses and led to the formation of numerous syn- 
cretistic Greco-Egyptian cults. It was Serapis (Osir- 
is-Apis) amalgamated with Zeus, Helius, Hades, Po¬ 
seidon, and other deities, as well as Isis, who had 
the greatest appeal to the Greco-Roman world. 
Greeks living in Egypt were attracted to Egyptian 
funerary cults and gradually adopted mummifica¬ 

Fourth, the Jewish communities in Alexandria 
and in other places constituted an important reli¬ 
gious factor. The Septuagint and the religious trea¬ 
tises of Philo rendered their faith accessible to 
members of other ethnic groups. They had a temple 


Follower of the goddess Isis. Sheikh Ibada (Upper 
Egypt), ca. 325 a.d. Limestone with traces of paint. 
Height 17 in. Courtesy D. & J. de Menil Collection. 

in Leontopolis from the time of Ptolemay VI Philo- 
metor (180-145 U.C.). It was erected by the high 
priest Onias (Josephus Flavius Antiquitates 13.3) 
within the building of a deserted temple of the god¬ 
dess Bast. After the capture of Jerusalem by Titus 
(A.D. 70), it was closed. 

The suppression of the Jewish revolt in A.D. 115 
temporarily broke the power of the Jew's in Egypt. 

Enmity between them and the Greeks in Alexandria 
was a recurring element. A grave conflict between 
Christians and Jews in the time of Cyril ended with 
the sacking of the Jewish quarter. 

Fifth, the rest of the cults did not play any promi¬ 
nent part. Among them the cults of Jupiter Capitol- 
inus in ArsinoS, of the goddess Roma, and of the 
emperors received support from the state, though 
some pagan monuments were dedicated by soldiers 
stationed in Egypt. 

Oriental deities were worshiped in smaller cir¬ 
cles. We have a vivid early Ptolemaic description of 
the Adonis festival in Alexandria in the Adoniazusai 
of Theocritus, and there is evidence for this cult 
also from the Roman period, when Adonis was 
identified with Osiris and Aion. Astarte had her cult 
in Egypt from the time of the New Kingdom. Atar- 
gatis also was adopted in Egypt. Mithra had a sanc¬ 
tuary in Alexandria and was venerated in other 
places. There w'as a Nanaion in Alexandria built in 
honor of the Semitic goddess Nanaia. 


According to Eusebius, Christianity was intro¬ 
duced into Alexandria by Saint Mark, though earlier 
sources do not mention this mission. Scanty evi¬ 
dence hinders the reconstruction of the history of 
early Christianity in Egypt. The earliest record is a 
fragmentary papyrus of the Gospel according to 
Saint John. It is a matter of debate how strongly the 
early Christian communities were connected with 
the Jews, and it is far from clear how they were 
influenced by gnosticism. At any rate, the strong 
presence of gnosticism in second-century Alexan¬ 
dria is evident in the works of Basilides and Valen¬ 

Also, the heritage of Hellenism was an important 
element in the development of Alexandrian theolo¬ 
gy. The history of the Alexandrian church can be 
traced from Patriarch DEMETRIUS I (189-231) on. 
During the third century, the church made consid¬ 
erable progress throughout the country. There were 
bishops in Alexandria and in Nilopolis and Hcrmo- 
polis (Eusebius Historia ecclesiastica, 6.42, 6.46). By 
the end of the third century the church achieved 
respectability among different classes and ethnic 
groups. In some districts a considerable part of the 
population may have belonged to the Christian 

Conflict with Other Religions 

From its very beginning Christianity was in oppo¬ 
sition to all other contemporary religions. The refu- 



sal to take part in the cult of the emperors and in 
other religious rites was a source of conflict with 
the authorities. Until the time of CONSTANTINE the 
church had no choice but to struggle against pagan¬ 
ism on the ideological plane, in preaching, and in 
literature. The existence of heathen gods was not 
explicitly denied; rather, they were declared to be 
evil spirits or demons: ". . . all the gods of the na¬ 
tions are demons" (Psalms 96:5). This meaning was 
given to the sentence in the Septuagint, while the 
Hebrew original has a somewhat different sense. 
The New Testament (1 Cor. 10:20) and the fathers 
of the church (e.g., Lactantius Divinae institutiones, 
4.27) also regarded the gods as demons. 

Two passages of the Old Testament wore inter¬ 
preted as prophecies predicting the triumph of 
Christianity in Egypt: Isaiah 19:19, "In that day 
there shall be an altar to the Lord in the midst of 
the land of Egypt . . Isaiah 19:1, . . Behold, the 

Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into 
Egypt; the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his 
presence, and the heart of Egypt shall be melted in 
the midst of it." In Coptic and Greek hagiography 
many legends about the destruction of idols by 
saints and martyrs were based on Matthew 8:29, in 
which the demons cry out, "What have we to do 
with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? Art thou come 
hither to torment us before time?" 

The negative attitude of the Old Testament to¬ 
ward Egypt was accepted by the church. Neverthe¬ 
less, the words of Paul (Romans 1:19-23) were in¬ 
terpreted to mean that God revealed His qualities to 
the Gentiles—including the Egyptians—through 
His created works, but the Gentiles failed to offer 
the right kind of worship to him. The passage in¬ 
duced Augustine to form a more favorable opinion: 

There may be others to be found who per¬ 
ceived and taught this truth among those who 
were esteemed as sages or philosophers in the 
other nations: Libyans of Atlas, Egyptians, Indi¬ 
ans, Chaldeans, Scythians, Gauls, Spaniards. Who¬ 
ever they may have been, we rank such thinkers 
above all others and acknowledge them as repre¬ 
senting the closest approximation to our Chris¬ 
tian position [Saint Augustine De civitate. Dei 8.9, 
trans. H. Bettensen, Harmondsworth, 1972]. 

Animal worship, mentioned in Romans 1:23, was 
an object of ridicule in the works of the fathers of 
the church. One of the first to speak of it is Justinus 
(Apology 1.24). The Catechetical School of Alexan¬ 
dria was interested in both Greek and Egyptian reli¬ 
gion. It was CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA who first dis- 
cussed some aspects of Egyptian religion. He 

appears deeply impressed by the splendor of the 
temples but finds it absurd that animal gods were 
worshiped there (Paedagogus 2.4.2ff.). Nevertheless, 
when making a comparison with the gods of the 
Greeks, he shows, remarkably, more indulgence for 
the animal worship than for the "adulterous" Greek 
gods (Protrepticus 2.39.4IF.). 

Origen, too, condemned the religion of the Egyp¬ 
tians. He learned, however, from the work of Celsus 
and probably from other sources that there was a 
deeper meaning behind the cult of the sacred 

Euhemerism was one of the weapons used 
against ancient mythology. Athenagoras used the 
testimony of Egyptian priests and sages in claiming 
that originally the gods had been men who came to 
be deified later. 

By the words of inspired nonbiblical poets and 
prophets, the Christian authoi's endeavored to sup¬ 
port their claim that the victory of Christianity was 
inevitable. This constituted a remarkable clement 
in the religious conflict. Besides Virgil's Fourth Ec¬ 
logue, supposedly predicting the birth of Jesus, the 
Sibylline Oracles, in reality reflecting Christian and 
Jewish ideas, were also in high esteem as pagan 
prophecies. They contain several passages relating 
to the decline of the gods in Egypt. Clement of 
Alexandria quoted the Sibylline Oracules' prophecy 
that the temple of Isis and Serapis would be over¬ 
thrown ( Protrepticus 4.50.3). In another passage, a 
priest clad in linen cloth summons his compatriots, 
the Egyptians, to build a splendid sanctuary to the 
true God and to repudiate the idolatry of the ances¬ 
tors (5.493-96). Sibylla enjoyed a high reputation 
with the Copts as the sister of Henoch, her position 
being something like that of a saint. 

Saint Augustine wanted to make HERMES TRISMEGI- 
STUS-Thoth into the prophet of the decline of Egyp¬ 
tian religion. In a Hermetic literary work of un¬ 
known authorship, the highly emotional description 
of the plagues predicted to befall Egypt (Asclepius 
24-26) was considered by Augustine (De civitate 
Dei 8.23) to be a prophecy lamenting the destruc¬ 
tion of Egyptian religion by Christianity. In actual 
fact, it belongs to an ancient Egyptian literary genre 
of apocalyptic predictions. The prophecy also sur¬ 
vived in a Coptic version (Nag Hammadi Codex VI; 
Krause and Labib, 1971). The widespread interest 
in such predictions is also demonstrated by a Cop¬ 
tic manuscript containing three pseudo prophecies 
attributed to Ulysses, Pythagoras, and Porphyrius. 
Their original language was probably Greek. Ulysses 
and Porphyrius foretell the destruction of the tem¬ 
ples, while Pythagoras speaks of the production of 


idols as foolishness. According lo Rufinus (Historia 
ecclesiastica 11.29), when the Serapeum in Alexan¬ 
dria was occupied by the Christians, the pagan 
priests recalled a tradition that their religion would 
flourish until the sign of life—the cross, identified 
with the hieroglyph ankh—appeared. 

The tone of Christian polemic literature grew 
more and mor<5 harsh in the course of time. Apolo¬ 
getic and philosophical debate gave way to trium¬ 
phant and scornful invectives against polytheism 
and idolatry. The last two eminent personalities of 
the Egyptian church who had to deal seriously with 
paganism were CYRIL THE OR EAT and SHENUTE. 

After the second century, those who adhered to 
ancient cults came to realize the need to reject 
Christian doctrines through philosophical and reli¬ 
gious arguments. Of the three most important au¬ 
thors—Celsus, Porphyrius, and the emperor Julian 
—C elsus wrote significant passages on the religious 
situation in Roman Egypt, although he was unable 
to make a clear distinction between orthodox Chris¬ 
tianity and gnosticism. The person of Jesus Christ 
was variously valued in pagan literature, for in¬ 
stance, he was held to have been a magician who 
accomplished his miracles by secret magical arts of 
Egyptian sanctuar ies and by powerful names of an¬ 
gels (Arnobius Adversus nationes 1.43). On the 
other hand, his exceptional piety was acknowl¬ 
edged, and it was his followers who were blamed 
for making him into God (Augustine De cMtate Dei 

The polytheistic religions in antiquity were gener¬ 
ally tolerant of one another, so it is no wonder 
pagans were ready to compromise with Judaism 
and Christianity. This tendency fitted in well with 
Jewish intentions to present heathen deities as bib¬ 
lical personalities. Hermes-Thoth was said to have 
been identical with Moses. An equation was made 
between Isis and Eve, though more importance was 
attached to the derivation of Scrapis from the bibli¬ 
cal history of Joseph. This also was favorably 
accepted in ancient Christian literature (Melito Sar- 
dianus Apology 5). Since Joseph was the great- 
grandson of Sarah, Firmicus Maternus saw her 
name in that of Serapis (De errore profanarum relig- 
ionum, 13); the calalhus of Serapis was regarded as 
an allusion to the granaries of Joseph. 

By means of these identifications, Christians 
thought to unmask the gods. In pagan circles they 
were not perceived as insulting, since the apotheo¬ 
sis of prominent men was widespread. Numenius, a 
Syrian forerunner of Neoplatonism in the second 
century, placed the religions of the Greeks, the 

Brahmins, the Jews, the Persian magi, and the 
Egyptians on the same level (frag. 9; Eusebius Prae- 
paratio evangclica 9.7). In another passage, Genesis 
1:2 is paralleled with the Egyptian cosmogonical 
notion of the Primeval Water (frag. 46; Porphyrius 
De antro nympharum 10) that has been a part of the 
great religions. In the lararium of Emperor Alexan¬ 
der Severus the images of Christ, Abraham, Orphe¬ 
us, and Apollonius of Tyana were admitted. We find 
a similar attitude held by the Gnostic Carpocratians 
(Irenaeus Adversus omttes haerescs 1.25.6). 

While the masses adopted the Christian faith, 
many pagan intellectuals, mainly Greeks, converted 
to philosophy, first of all to Neoplatonism. The 
chief representatives of Neoplatonism had a keen 
interest in the sacred wisdom of the Egyptians. It 
was an Egyptian priest who evoked the spirit of 
Plotinus in the Iseum in Rome and demonstrated 
its divine nature (Porphyrius Vita Platini 10). The 
last compendium of Greco-Oriental mysticism with 
many Egyptian elements was composed by lambli- 
chus in the fourth century. 

However, the end of the gods was imminent. One 
of them, Antoninus, who devoted himsell to the cult 
of the gods in Kanobos, predicted to his disciples 
that the temple there and also the Serapeum would 
cease to exist (Eunapius Vitae sophist arum, p. 
471c). What he feared soon came true, but the phi¬ 
losophers did not give up the cult of the Egyptian 
gods. Even as late as the filth century Proclus com¬ 
posed hymns in honor of Isis at Philae (Marinus 
Vila Procli 19), and heraiscus was buried according 
to the Osirian ritual (see mummification). 

The Political Struggle 

Political conflict with the state was imminent af¬ 
ter the rise of Christianity. In Egypt, if we disregard 
anti-Christian riots of smaller dimensions, Eusebius 
recorded three great persecutions. During the first 
one, about a.d. 200 under Septimius Severus (His¬ 
toria ecclesiastica 6.1-6), the Alexandrian commu¬ 
nity in particular was gravely afllicted. While con¬ 
temporary data for the oppression under Septimius 
Severus are missing, there is ample evidence for 
the large-scale systematic persecution under Decius 
between 249 and 251. An imperial decree ordered 
sacrifice and libation to the gods, and certificates 
(lihelli) that these had been performed were re¬ 
quired. Many of these documents are known from 
Egypt. Decius’ death did not put an end to the 
persecutions, which continued intermittently until 



A change came after the capture of Valerianus by 
the Persians. Then the religious politics of Gallienus 
brought about a change, and the church lived un¬ 
der relatively peaceful circumstances until 303, 
when the crudest of persecutions began under 
DIOCLETIAN (284-305). The oppression was especial¬ 
ly bloody in the Orient, and many Egyptian Chris¬ 
tians were victimized for their faith. In the Coptic 
calendar, the Era of the Martyrs has as its starting 
point Diocletian's year of accession, 284. The perse¬ 
cution continued under Galerius (305-313). The 
patriarch of Alexandria, Peter I, was beheaded at 
the end of Galerius' reign, although accounts erro¬ 
neously name Diocletian as emperor. A Christian 
tradition attributed a baneful role to Egyptian magi¬ 
cians, who allegedly instigated the persecutions. 
Also Licinius (311-324), who again became a sup¬ 
porter of paganism in his last years, is said to have 
had Egyptian soothsayers and magicians in his en¬ 
tourage (Eusebius Vila Constantini 2.4). 

A new chapter commenced in the history of the 
Egyptian church when Constantine won control of 
Egypt in 324. The hatred stemming from the blood¬ 
shed under Diocletian made a peaceful coexistence 
between the Christian and pagan parties virtually 
impossible. Constantine gradually went over to the 
side of the Christians and began to take measures to 
reduce the power of the ancient cults. It was cer¬ 
tainly a heavy blow to the worshipers of Serapis, 
the supreme god in Alexandria, that Constantine 
ordered the Nile cubit, the symbol of the god as 
lord of the flood, to be transferred from the Ser- 
apeum into a church (Socrates Scholasticus 
Historiu ecclesiastica 1.18). The participation of an¬ 
drogynous, or eunuch, priests in the cult of the Nile 
was forbidden. Although the decree of 331 was not 
enforced—that is, the temples were not destroyed 
—the cult of the gods reached a critical situation. 
In spite of the hostile religious policies of the state, 
the ancient religions actually survived the reign of 
Constantine. The anlipagan attitude of the emperor 
was somewhat exaggerated in the later tradition: a 
Coptic text presents him as a ruler who ordered the 
destruction of the images of the gods and the exe¬ 
cution of the pagan priests. 

Also, Coptic literature adapted the legend of the 
emperor's conversion before the battle of the Milvi- 
an Bridge in 312. It says that during the night be¬ 
fore the battle, Constantine saw the stars lined up 
in the form of a cross, which was identified by a 
Christian soldier as the sign of Christ. 

The situation grew even worse under Constantius 
II (337-361). While the decree of 341 prohibiting 

sacrifices to the gods was certainly not enforced, it 
was a sign of the general tendency. Two events in 
Egypt made it clear that the state was ready to 
resort to the most brutal measures. In Abydos an 
oracle of Bes became a fashionable cult center con¬ 
sulted even by men of rank living outside Egypt in 
the late Roman period (Ammianus Marcellinus 
19.12.3ff.). Some of the answers of the god were 
sent to the emperor. Since the god obviously was 
consulted occasionally on the question of succes¬ 
sion to the imperial power, the denunciation led to 
a wave of persecutions of hysterical severity. Any 
magical practices and divination were considered 
by the emperors of the fourth century as mortal 
threats to their safety. 

The target of another attack was the Serapeum in 
Alexandria. Artemius, the simtegos of Egypt, 
stormed the temple with his soldiers and plundered 
it, taking away statues of the gods and offerings 
(Julianus Epistle 10). There was obviously no more 
effective legal protection available to the temples. 
Then, a sudden change in the political situation 
gave a new lease on life to the pagan cults. The 
accession of Julian the apostate (361-363) brought 
about a new religious policy favoring paganism. 
The temporary victory of the pagan party led to the 
uprising of the mob in Alexandria against the Arian 
bishop Georgius, and he was killed by the pagans. 
Artemius was condemned to death by the emperor. 
Julian redressed an old grievance of the pagans by 
restoring the Nile cubit to the Serapeum (So/.omen 
Ecclesiastica historia 5.3). The discovery of a new 
Apis bull may have been taken as a good omen for 
a religious renaissance. In the Egyptian pantheon it 
was Serapis, with his rich syncrctistic associations, 
who matched the best of the abstract philosophical 
religion of Julian (cf. Julian Orationes 4.35 S.). 

With the death of Julian the pagan party lost its 
dominance. While the attempt to revitalize the mor¬ 
ibund ancient religions failed, it appears that the 
pagan cults survived in Egypt in relative peace until 
the reign of Theodosius (379-395). The conflict 
grew intense again in 391, when a full-scale civil 
war broke out in Alexandria. Although it is hard, 
because of controversial sources, to obtain a clear 
picture of the course of events, it emerges unequiv¬ 
ocally that the pagans rose up in arms against the 
patriarch throphilus (385-412) and used the Ser¬ 
apeum as a stronghold from which to launch at¬ 
tacks against the Christians. The crisis was caused 
by the desecration of the cultic objects of a pagan 
temple by Theophilus. In sozomens narrative it was 
a temple of Dionysus. Socrates speaks of Methra- 


cum {Ecclesiastica historia 17.15IT.)- In the same 
year Emperor Theodosius issued a decree prohibit¬ 
ing sacrifices and visits to the temples in Rome. 
When informed of the situation in Alexandria, he 
promulgated a similar decree for that city. The re¬ 
bels were given amnesty, but the Seiapeum had to 
be abandoned to the Christians, who destroyed the 
statue of the god. The temple was converted into 
the Church of Arcadius (Calderini, 1935, p. 145). 
There is also evidence for a Church of Saint John 
the Baptist there. 

With the abolition of the cult of Scrapis—in an 
open religious debate the name of Serapis was not 
mentioned at all—there was an end to the institu¬ 
tional form of ancient religion in Alexandria, 
though the teaching of philosophy and sciences 
continued for a long time with pagan masters. A 
new outbreak of religious fanaticism, culminating 
in the murder of the philosopher Hypatia by a mob 
in 415, did not alter the situation. The cult of the 
gods continued, more or less in secret, even in the 
neighborhood of Alexandria. Patriarch Cyril had to 
transport the relics of two martyrs, Cyrus and John, 
to Menuthis in order to counteract the influence of 
Isis as a healing goddess. In spite of this, paganism 
lingered on in Menuthis, and in 484 a great number 
of images representing gods and sacred animals 
were discovered in a house. The worshipers consist¬ 
ed mostly of the members of Alexandrian academic 
circles. The statues were transported to Alexandria 
and publicly burned. 

In the rest of the country the disappearance of 
paganism took place at various dates. In Memphis 
the cults were probably abolished at the end of the 
fourth century. In the eleventh Upper Egyptian 
nome, in Tkow, the god Kothos was worshipped in 
the first half of the fifth century. The pagans were 
accused of murdering Christian children, and the 
temple was burned. In the district of Akhmlm, She- 
nute led the struggle against the pagan communi¬ 
ties. The surviving temples in Atripe, Plewit, and 
Kronus in Akhmim were occupied or destroyed. 
The god Bes haunted as an evil spirit in Abydos. 
Apa Moses fought against a corporation of pagan 
priests until his prayer caused the temple to col¬ 

In Thebes the culls probably ended at an earlier 
date. There is evidence for a high priest of Amon in 
A.D. 180 (Ouaegebeur, 1974, p. 43). About 300 a 
Roman camp was built in the temple of Luxor. The 
sacellum, the sanctuary of the camp, was the place 
of the imperial cult under the Tetrarchy. A number 
of Coptic churches were erected beside the temple, 
one in the court itself (now beneath the Abu al- 

Hajjaj mosque). In Karnak, the Festival Hall of 
Thutmosis III was transformed into a church, and 
the remains of monasteries have been found in vari¬ 
ous places. On the west side of Thebes numerous 
ancient tombs were converted into dwellings or 
used for cultic purposes by the Christians. There 
were Christian buildings in a number of temples, 
and temples were used for the Christian cult. 

The last of the temples where the cult survived 
until the reign of Emperor Justinian (527-565) was 
the temple of Isis at Philae. This was tolerated for 
political reasons, since the majority of the Nobadae 
and Blemmycs accepted Christianity as late as the 
sixth century. They were permitted to visit the is¬ 
land regularly. Although it was a pagan religious 
center, a Christian community lived there from the 
fourth century. The exact date of the closing of the 
temple cannot be established beyond 535/537. It 
was part of the religious policy that put an end to 
the Academy in Athens in 529. The priests were 
arrested and the images of the gods sent to Con¬ 
stantinople (Procopius De hello Persico, 1.19-37). 
The temple was converted into the Church of Saint 


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Occupation." Bulletin de la Sociele d'archeologie 
copte 15 (1960): 125—49. 

Rees, B. R. "Popular Religion in Graeco-Roman 
Egypt: II, The Transition to Christianity." Journal 
of Egyptian Archeology 36 (1950):86-100. 

Roberts, C. H. Manuscript, Society and Belief in 
Early Christian Egypt. London, 1979. 
Scott-Moncrieff, P. D. Paganism and Christianity in 
Egypt. Cambridge, 1913. 

Stambaugh, J. E. Sarapis Under the Early Ptolemies. 
Etudes prcliminaires aux religions orienlales dans 
I'empire romain 25. Leiden, 1972. 

Witt, R. E. Isis in the Greco-Roman World. London, 


PAGARCH (Greek, pagarchos or pagarches), word 
of obscure origin because of the comparative lack 
of papyri from the fifth century. G. Rouiliard (1928) 
dates it to 460/470, while W. Liebeschuel/. (1973) 
connects the rise of the pagarch with the reforms of 
Emperor Anastasius I (491-518), whose aim was to 
revive civic institutions. By the sixth century the 
pagarch was the most powerful representative of 
the principle of local autonomy in the civil admin¬ 
istration of Egypt. Under Arab administration, after 
642, the pagarch (also known as epikeimenos, 
afniras, dioiketes, archon) formed the main link be¬ 
tween the Arab governor and the subject popula¬ 
tion. From the end of the seventh century, the of¬ 
fice was increasingly held by Muslims. 

The pagarch was chosen, probably by provincial 
authorities, from among wealthy ex-officials and 
major landowners; an example is the Apion family, 
who held the post for several generations at Oxy- 
rhynchus (Gascou, 1985, pp. 61-75). His appoint¬ 
ment by the pretorian prefect was subject to ratifi¬ 
cation by the emperor. Rather than being an office 
in the strict sense, the function of the pagarch 
seems to have been a munus patrimonii (patrimoni¬ 
al office); it also could be held by women (Gascou, 
1972, pp. 68-70). Though the pagarch received his 
instructions from the provincial governor, he was 
directly responsible to, and could only be dismissed 
by, the emperor (see the regulations of Justinian’s 
Edict. XIII. 12; 25). 

From the end of the sixth century, the district 
administered by a pagarch was called a pagarchia. 
The same word is attested in the fourth century 
with the meaning "office of the praepositus pagi " 
(P. Oxyrhynchus 17.2110, A.D. 370). Hence the as¬ 
sumption that the pagarch supplanted the 
praepositus pagi, who is attested from 307/308 until 
the second half of the fifth century, as chief officer 
of a pagus. The pagarchy has accordingly been con¬ 
sidered to be a conglomerate of pagi: the pagus 
(created in 307/308 to replace the toparchy) being 
the rural area surrounding a city, the administrative 
district of the pagarch would have been equivalent 
to the nome with the exception of the metropolis 
(Gel/.er, 1909). This suggestion has been convinc¬ 
ingly rejected in favor of the assumption that the 
pagarchy was coextensive with the nome in its en¬ 
tirety (e.g., Bell, 1908, pp. 101-103). A single pag¬ 
archy could be headed by two, sometimes three, 
pagarchs. This did not imply a topographical divi¬ 
sion, at least not in the Byzantine period, but a 
division of responsibilities (Gascou, 1972; Wip- 
szyeka, 1971). 

As "director of taxation," the pagarch probably 
supplanted the exactor civitatis, himself a successor 
of the strategos of the nome, whose office was re¬ 
duced to that of a tax collector after 307/308. The 
pagarch, however, exerted greater coercive power 
and enjoyed more autonomy toward the city coun¬ 
cil than the exactor ever did. He was responsible 
for forwarding and enforcing the financial orders of 
the central and the provincial governments on the 
local level, a delicate task because it involved direct 
contact with the often unruly taxpayers. In rural 
areas, the pagarch\s authority to make assessments 
and collect imperial tribute was confined to the 
villages and estates that were not granted the privi¬ 
lege of autopragia (the right to collect their own 
taxes and to deliver them directly at the provincial 



bureau, the epichdrios taxis). Besides his financial 
duties, the pagarch exerted some judicial functions, 
for instance, ensuring that the decisions of the pro¬ 
vincial courts were executed. 

The pagarch held his office for several years, per¬ 
haps for life. Some pagarchs combined their office 
with that of a topotBritis, a provincial governor's 
deputy, or of a tribunus (stratelates), a garrison 
commander, thus increasing their authority to a 
degree rarely conceded to local functionaries in 
earlier Roman provincial administration (Liebcs- 
chuetz, 1974). 


Bell, H. I. "The Aphrodito Papyri." Journal of Hel¬ 
lenistic Studies 28 (1908):97-106. 

Gascou, J. "La Detention colldgiale de l'autoritd 
pagarchiquc dans I’Egypte byzantine." Byzantion 
42 (1972):60—72. 

-"Lcs Grands domaincs, la cite et I'etat en 

Egypte byzantine (recherches d’histoire agraire, 
fiscale et administrative)." Travaux et memoires 9 
(1985): I-90. 

Gelzer, M. Sludien zur byzantinischen Verwaltung 
A gyp tens, pp. 84-92. Leipziger Historische Ab- 
handlungen 13. Leipzig, 1909. 

Grohmann, A. "Der Beamtenstab der arabischen 
Finanzverwaltung in Agypten in friiharabischer 
Zeit." In Sludien zur Papyrologie nnd antiken 
Wirtschaftsgeschichte Friedrich Oertel zum achtzi- 
gsten Gcburtstag gewidmet. Bonn, 1964. 

Johnson, A. C., and L. C. West. Byzantine Egypt. 
Economic Studies, pp. 102-06, 174, 219, 322-27. 
Amsterdam, 1967. Reprint of the 1949 edition. 
Liebeschuctz, W. "The Origin of the Office of the 
Pagarch." Byzantinische Zeitschrift 36 (1973):38- 

__ "The Pagarch: City and Imperial Adminis¬ 
tration in Byzantine Egypt." Journal of Juristic 
Papyrology 18 (1974): 163-68. 

Rouillard, Ci. //administration civile de !'Egypte byz¬ 
antine, 2nd ed., pp. 52-62. Paris, 1928. 
Wipszycka, E. "Lcs regus d’impots ct le bureau dcs 
comptes des pagarchies aux VP-VII" siecles." 
Journal of Juristic Papyrology 16-17 (1971): 105— 


PAINTING, COPTIC MURAL. This article dis¬ 
cusses painting on the walls of houses, Roman 
camps, tombs and funerary chapels, monasteries, 
and churches in Egypt from the third century to the 
thirteenth. For painting on panels sec ICONS: por¬ 

Mural painting had a long tradition in the phar¬ 
aonic period. It continued in the Coptic period, 
generally in die same techniques. In subject matter 
and style, murals in houses and palaces, as far as 
they are known, followed Greco-Roman traditions. 
Funerary murals displayed the iconography com¬ 
mon to early Christianity everywhere. In the 
churches and great monastic establishments, the 
originality of Coptic painting was clearly evident. 


Twentieth-century excavations at Isna and Kellia 
have provided a more precise idea of the mural¬ 
painting techniques of Coptic artists, professional 
and nonprofessional, than was hitherto available. In 
most instances the paint consisted of pigment 
mixed in whitewash (lime and water) or with a 
binder such as egg or casein. It was applied to dry 
or slightly moistened plaster (a mixture of lime, 
water, and sand), which partially fused with the 
paint. In extremely rare instances the paint was 
applied while the plaster was still wet, in accord¬ 
ance with the true fresco technique described by 
the Roman architect Vitruvius. With the informa¬ 
tion available at present, it is not possible to deter¬ 
mine whether these paintings were true frescos on 
intentionally wet plaster or whether they were the 
result of the painter's impatience for the plaster to 

The plaster surface supporting the paint may have 
been simply brushed on the wall or carefully boffet- 
ed in place. It is not known whether these two 
techniques date from different periods or depend 
on the dimensions or condition of the wall to be 
covered. The painters were well acquainted with 
the characteristics of their materials, such as their 
resistance to the acid in lime and the atmosphere 
and the reaction of compounds with each other. 
They used brushes and pens of varying thickness 
and quality: fine brushes and pens for contour lines 
and sketches, thicker ones for continuous strokes, 
and dense brushes for filling in stencil designs or 
large surfaces. 

In many nonrepresentational murals it has been 
determined that the artist began by drawing verti¬ 
cal. horizontal, and oblique lines with the aid of a 
string probably dipped in red (or rarely black) dye. 
Around them he painted vague yellow, brown, and 
black shapes to suggest the veins in marble. In 
other murals, of complex figural subjects, the artist 
made a sinopia (a preliminary drawing in reddish 
pigment) indicating the pose of a figure or the 


placement of the principal elements in the compo¬ 
sition. In most cases the strokes are clear, swift, 
and sure, with no sign of the artist changing his 

In some nonfigural murals the preparatory design 
was incised with a pointed instrument, as for exam¬ 
ple at Kellia, where circles were marked by a light 
groove and a center dot, suggesting the use of a 
compass. Other murals at Kellia are friezes consist¬ 
ing of simple motifs repeated along the whole- 
length of the wall, suggesting the use of a stencil. 

In the Roman period, murals of important sub¬ 
jects and in important places were carefully fin¬ 
ished. According to Pliny they were smoothed with 
a flat instrument to hide the dividing lines between 
sections of plaster and to remove all roughness. 
This technique was no longer used in the Byzantine 
period, when, for the most part, the plaster was 
quickly smoothed over and then painted. 

Finally, in some instances, painting and relief 
sculpture were combined. The plaster was worked 
in relief before it dried in order to create moldings, 
pilasters, columns, and striking profiles. The color 
completed the illusions of stone architecture: verti¬ 
cal or oblique lines evoked flutings and torsades; 
acanthus leaves decorated the capitals; curved ridg¬ 
es painted in dark colors against a lighter back¬ 
ground gave the impression of carved conch shells. 
Sometimes the combination is such that the truly 
sculpted elements supported others that were stuc¬ 
coed and painted, or vice versa. This technique was 
especially frequent at Saqqara. 

Murals in Secular Buildings 

Little is known about the paintings that adorned 
the private homes in Egyptian cities during the Byz¬ 
antine era: Tanis, Bubastis, Karanis, Hermopolis 
Magna, Thebes, Elephantine, and al-Kab, to cite but 
a few examples. It is likely, however, that there, as 
at Antinoopolis, the styles and subjects adopted dur¬ 
ing the Greco-Roman period persisted: friezes of 
panels painted in imitation of marble or alabaster 
slabs, geometric motifs, scrolling floral elements. 

In the Roman camps, which were still active in 
the Byzantine period, there existed a Roman pro¬ 
vincial art that belonged to the pagan world. A few 
examples have been discovered at Oasr-Qarun, (an¬ 
cient Dionysias), which are marked by a strong in¬ 
fluence from Palmyra, and Luxor, where the paint¬ 
ings of the "Imperial Temple,” long considered to 
be Christian, have been proven to be portrayals of 
diverse aspects of the Roman imperial cull and mil¬ 
itary life. 

Funerary Murals 

Little more is known about funerary murals. 
Knowledge of the Christian catacombs and chapels 
of Alexandria, now destroyed, has been transmitted 
only through ancient descriptions. In the catacomb 
of Karmuz, two or three layers of paintings, accu¬ 
mulated through the third to fifth centuries, cover 
the walls. They depicted episodes from the life of 
Christ, His miracles such as the wedding at Cana, 
and the multiplying of the loaves of bread, and 
diverse saints, apostles, and prophets. 

The necropolis of al-Bagawat, containing some 
260 tombs, was used by both Christians and pagans. 
Two chapels arc particularly renowned: the Chapel 
of the Exodus, dating from the fourth century, and 
the Chapel of Peace, dating from the sixth century, 
where scenes from the Old and New Testaments 
predominate, but they are not distinctively Coptic. 

Similar subjects decorated certain tombs in Anti¬ 
noopolis: crosses, symbolic peacocks and doves, 
women praying (c.g., a famous painting of a de¬ 
ceased woman between Saint Colluthus and the 
Virgin Mary), and Christ in Majesty adored by an¬ 
gels; there are also vegetal and geometric motifs 
directly influenced by Roman art. The Good Shep¬ 
herd and praying figures, peacocks, doves, and 
vines are also found in the tombs of the nearby 
mountain as well as at Qararah. 

This brief survey of necropolis painting permits 
the generalization that the themes pictured are 
those that appear in other Christian necropolises of 
the period such as those in Rome and Naples. 
Alongside a few subjects from the pagan world, 
allegories, for example, and geometric and vegetal 
motifs, scenes drawn from the Old and New Testa¬ 
ments predominate. But, as will be noted subse¬ 
quently, these biblical scenes became less frequent 
in monastic necropolises. 

Murals in Monasleries 

The decoration of monasteries is an entirely 
different matter. At Kellia, Abu Jirjah 'Alam Shaltut, 
Wadi al-NatrOn, Saqqara, Bawit, and Isna, it may be 
noted that the monks' oratories were decorated 
with particular care and housed the greatest num¬ 
ber of paintings. In each oratory the vestibule, its 
walls covered with inscriptions, introduces this ava¬ 
lanche of decoration. Whereas in other monastic 
buildings the lower level of the walls is uniformly 
covered with Pompeian red, occasionally interrupt¬ 
ed by a decorated panel, in the oratory the lower 
level is a succession of panels decorated with geo- 


metric and floral motifs and shapes evoking shafts 
or pillars of prized stone, such as marble, prophyry, 
or alabaster. Above this level there is a succession 
of monks, local saints, and, more rarely, biblical 
scenes such as the three children in the furnace, 
the sacrifice of Isaac, episodes from the lives of the 
Virgin and of Christ, and at Bawlt, various episodes 
of the story of David. 

The eastern wall of the oratory is the most impor¬ 
tant from a religious point of view, and as a conse¬ 
quence its d6cor is amplified. Two small niches— 
usually undecorated and meant to hold liturgical 
objects—frame the large, principal niche, which is 
enhanced by columns or pillars and an archivolte 
sculpted in stone, or molded in stucco and painted 
in imitation of real sculpture. Sculpture and paint¬ 
ing are often found closely related, as in Saqqara, 
where in some places earthen columns covered 
with a layer of painted stucco, support a stone arch. 
In other places the walls of the niche rest on a base 
sometimes made of a stone slab without decoration, 
as at Saqqara and Bawit, or else on a simple geo¬ 
metric area of dark red, as at Kellia. The oratory 
walls and principal niche are decorated with paint¬ 
ings. At Bawlt and Saqqara there are murals of 
Christ in Majesty, the Virgin and Child framed by 
archangels, saints, and apostles; at Isna there are a 
few saints, but above all, crosses or pecking birds; 
at Kellia there are crosses of varied forms, or, as an 
exception, a symbolic boat. 

Finally there are small murals in various monas¬ 
teries that have all too rarely caught the attention 
of excavators. Located in one secondary room or 
another, they portray the monks in their daily activ¬ 
ities. Quick sketches, sometimes scribblings, paint¬ 
ed in dark red, or graffiti, they have little artistic 
value, but they are not without interest, for they 
attest the life and material preoccupations of those 
who inhabited the great monasteries. 

Murals in Churches 

Veiy little is known today about murals in the 
most ancient Coptic churches because few exam¬ 
ples survive. Many evidences of Egyptian Christiani¬ 
ty disappeared in the thirteenth and fourteenth cen¬ 
turies. Information from secondary sources is often 
uncertain. The Arabic writers al-Maqrizi and Abu 
Salib the Armenian mention an impressive number 
of churches and monasteries containing murals and 
icons, but they do not name the subjects depicted. 
Likewise, most of the descriptions by European 
travelers from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centu¬ 

ry are brief and give little useful information. 
Doubtless, as in other Christian areas, there were 
scenes illustrating the life of Christ and representa¬ 
tions of local saints, but whether they were on walls 
or apses is unknown. The most that can be said is 
that the iconography followed the plans of the mu¬ 
rals in oratories of the monks' cells and prepared 
the way for the vast iconographic programs of the 
churches in the Middle Ages. 

Murals In Early Churches. Only a few murals of 
saints remain in the churches at Philac built in the 
temples of Imhotep, Isis, and Hathor, where they 
overlaid pharaonic decoration. There are also a few 
such murals in the churches constructed in the 
temples of Seti I at Abydos, Hatshepsut at Dayr 
al-Bahri, and Hathor in Dandarah and in the rough 
brick sanctuaries erected at Hermopolis Magna, 
Thebes, Luxor, and Karnak, and the monastery in¬ 
stalled in a pagan temple at Dayr al-Madinah. Their 
context remains unknown. 

The paintings of certain structures in the envi¬ 
rons of Alexandria and Antinoopolis in the region 
of Lake Mareotis are somewhat better known. At 
Abu Jiijah, 'Alam Shaltut, and the monastic com¬ 
plex of Abu Mina, geometric and floral motifs deco¬ 
rate the lower walls of rooms. Christ, the Virgin, a 
great number of saints, including Saint Menas the 
Miracle Maker between his camels, and a few New' 
Testament scenes, such as an Annunciation at Abu 
Jirjah, appear in other areas. 

Biblical scenes are also depicted at Dayr Abu 
Hinnis, which houses the oldest portrayal known in 
Egypt of the Christological cycle. It attests great 
care for historical grouping, for here are united the 
massacre of the innocents, the appearance of Gabri¬ 
el to Joseph, the Flight into Egypt, plus the miracles 
of Christ (such as the wedding at Cana and the 
resurrection of Lazarus), and scenes from the life of 
Zacharias. Similar subjects are also depicted in the 
Church of Saint Colluthus near Antinoopolis. 

Among other extant murals that date before the 
tenth century, those of Dayr Anba Hadra at Aswan 
must be mentioned. In the monastery church, rows 
of stiff hieratic saints are portrayed on the walls. In 
the narthex, there is a Virgin and Child, before 
whom the archangels Michael and Gabriel are pros¬ 
trate. The demi-cupola of the main concha (curved 
recess) of the apse is occupied by a Christ in Majes¬ 
ty giving benediction with one hand and holding 
the Holy Book in the other. His throne is surroun¬ 
ded by a mandorla (almond-shaped aureole), and 
he is worshiped by archangels and saints. Christ 
Triumphant is also pictured in the central apse of 



the Church of Shenute in Cairo, with a more unusu¬ 
al scene depicted in the right apse: a draped cross 
within a mandorla, between saints on foot. A simi¬ 
lar motif is found in Dayr Anba Bishoi at Suhaj. 

Murals from the Tenth Century or Later. 
Where the churches have been continuously occu¬ 
pied, only the most recent paintings are visible. 
Therefore, the churches of Cairo have kept but 
meager traces of any decoration preceding the 
tenth century. It is known, for example, that paint¬ 
ings of saints adorned the columns and pillars of 
the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus (Church 
of the Nativity) dating from the fourth and fifth 
centuries, but the paintings were destroyed when 
the church was pillaged in the twelfth century. It 
was subsequently covered with a new series o! 
paintings that were also destroyed in turn, and then 
later redone. 

The same may be said for the churches in the 
monasteries of Wadi al-Natrun, Dayr Anba An- 
tuniyus and Dayr Anba Bula in the desert by the 
Red Sea, as well as Dayr Anba Shinudah and Dayr 
Anba Bishoi at Suhaj, and Dayr al-Shuhada* and 
Dayr al-FakhGrl at Isna. Most of the murals pre¬ 
served scarcely date before the tenth century. They 
present a vast iconographical array that unfolds all 
along the walls, apses, and columns. Scenes from 
the Old Testament such as Daniel in the lions' den, 
the sacrifice of Isaac, and the three children in the 
furnace decorate the walls. The walls also show 
scenes from the life of Mary, such as the Annuncia¬ 
tion, Nativity, Dormilion, and Assumption, and of 
Christ, in the Adoration of the Magi and miracles, 
notably the wedding at Cana. Prophets, saints, espe¬ 
cially mounted ones, monks, and founders of mon¬ 
asteries appear on the walls, and male and female 
saints decorate the columns. The cross is less fre¬ 
quent and is always triumphant, carried or venerat¬ 
ed by angels. Archangels mount guard on the tri¬ 
umphal arch leading to the apse. 

Christ is usually portrayed in the principal apse 
as the Pantocralor (ruler of the universe), Christ 
triumphant, Christ in Glory, or Christ in Majesty 
seated on a throne, holding the Holy Bible in one 
hand and giving benediction with the other. He is 
surrounded by a mandorla and is generally support¬ 
ed by the Tetramorph (four apocalyptic creatures 
symbolizing the evangelists) for which the Copts 
have a particular devotion. This is also the iconog¬ 
raphy of the Middle Ages in Egypt. One apse varied 
from another according to the presence or absence 
of the moon and the sun, the archangels Gabriel 
and Michael, and occasionally one saint or another. 

All of them included the tetramorph placed around 
the mandorla. At Dayr Anba Shinudah the four 
evangelists are depicted seated and writing, each 
one beside his symbolic animal. The unusual por¬ 
trayal of these animals must also be noted at Dayr 
Anba Antuniyus in the Chapel of the Four Animals, 
where the zodia (small animals) have the bodies of 

Often in monastic churches the Virgin is pictured 
beneath the Christ in Majesty, where she is framed 
by Michael and Gabriel, at Dayr al-Shuhada’, or the 
apostles, at Dayr Abu Sayfayn. The association of 
these two themes of Mary and the apostles was 
already found in the oratory niches of the monastic 
cells, for example, at Dayr Apa Apollo and Dayr Apa 
Jeremiah. Mary is pictured as the Theotokos with 
her child on her lap in the monasteries, for exam¬ 
ple in Chapel 28 of Dayr Apa Apollo and Cells D 
and 1723 of Dayr Apa Jeremiah, and in the later 
churches of Dayr al-Abyad and Dayr Anba An¬ 
tuniyus. The picture of the Virgin praying in the 
midst of the apostles, as at Dayr Abu Sayfayn, also 
finds its origins in the apses of the monasteries, 
such as Chapels 17 and 20 of Dayr Apa Apollo. At 
Kellia, no true painting has yet been found in the 
basilicas, though there may perhaps be remains of 
an image of Christ at al-Ruba'iyyat. At Dayr Apa 
Jeremiah at Saqqara, in the main church, the cupo¬ 
la was covered with mosaics; on the columns there 
were saints afoot, draperies, and friezes, but no 
painted wall decoration has yet been discovered, 
the other great structures being ornamented with 
slabs of marble. The paintings of the two churches 
at Dayr Apa Apollo arc somewhat better known. In 
the northern church, there were numerous person¬ 
ages portrayed on the columns, among whom were 
Saint George as a warrior, the archangels Michael 
and Gabriel, King David, plus a Virgin and Child, as 
well as Christ. The walls were covered with panels 
of personages, but their identities arc unknown. In 
the southern church, at the back of the sanctuary 
there is a Christ enthroned in the midst of the 
apostles; elsewhere there are a cross carried by 
angels, a Virgin and Child, and numerous unidenti¬ 
fiable fragments. 


Butler, A. J. The Ancient Coptic Churches of Egypt. 

2 vols. Oxford, 1884; repr. 1970. 

Mekhitarian, A. La Peinture tgyptienne. Geneva, 


Rassart-Debergh, M. "La peinture copte avant le 

Xlle sidcle. Une approche." In Acta ad Archaelo- 


giam el Artium Historiam pertinentia 9. Rome, 

_"Peinturcs des Kellia." Actes du colloque de 

Geneve 13 an 15 aout 1984: Le site monastique 
copte des Kellia. Geneva, 1986. 

_"Peinture copte. Premieres observalions 

techniques." Actes du 3me colloque Internationale 
sur la peinture mitrule Romaine. Avenches 28-31 
aoiit 1986. Avenches, 1987. 

Marguerite Rassart Debergii 

PALAEMON, SAINT, hermit. Palaemon must 
be carefully distinguished from his namesake, the 
master of pachomius. The synaxarion says only that 
he was a hermit in the eastern mountains. Since all 
the notices peculiar to this recension were com¬ 
piled in the region of Qift, it is more than probable 
that he lived in that region; however, the time at 
which he lived cannot be specified. Palaemon 
wished at first to go to the countryside of Egypt, but 
it is not known if the countryside was (he Delta or 
the Nile Valley. He met Apa Talasun/i^TSON. be¬ 
came his friend, and confessed his sins to him. 
Palaemon relates that, having wished to sell the 
work of his hands at a place near Misr, he was 
tempted by the devil in the guise of a woman, who 
proposed that he should many her. Finally he rec¬ 
ognized that this was a temptation, and at last re¬ 
ceived the gift of healing. 

His feast day is 30 Tubah. 

RenG-Gborgi-S Coouin 

PALAMON, SAINT, fourth-century hermit who 
was the teacher of Saint pachomius. He is known 
only through the Life of Pachomius. He is impor¬ 
tant for having transmitted to young Pachomius the 
ascetic traditions of early Christian monasticism. 

When Pachomius decided to become a monk, he 
went to the anchorite Palamon, who had become a 
model for many monks near the village of Sheneset 
(Chenoboskion), and asked him for the grace to 
become a monk in his company. Palamon ex¬ 
plained to Pachomius "the rule of monastic life, 
according to what we have learned from those who 
went before us." Pachomius lived for seven years 
with him, until he settled at Tabennese. Palamon 
died shortly afterward. 

Palamon was a typical charismatic father of the 
Egyptian desert: A man of frightfully severe asceti¬ 
cism, dedicated to vigils, fasting, and manual work, 
he was first of all a man of continuous prayer. 

Although he did not try to set up some form of 
community, he nevertheless accepted the task of 
leading in the paths of ascetic life all those who 
were disposed to take upon themselves the cross of 
Christ. "Abrupt in speech,” he could also love his 
disciples with great tenderness, and was very sad 
when Pachomius left him to follow his own calling. 
Nevertheless, he said, "May the will of God be 

Armand Vp.ii.i.f.ux 

CHARLES (1865-1909), French Egyptologist. He 
was born at Auch and studied at the Ecole des 
Hautes Etudes (Paris). He was attached to the In- 
stitut fran<;ais d’Archeologie orientale in Cairo from 
November 1900 to November 1902, during which 
time he excavated Coptic mins near Abu Rawash at 
Bawit and at Asyuj. On his return to France, he 
became an archivist at Auch. 


Kammerer, W., comp. A Coptic Bibliography. Ann 
Arbor, Mich., 1950; repr. New York, 1969. 

M. L. Bierbrier 

PALEOGRAPHY. See Appendix. 

PALLADIUS (363-431), author of the Historia 
lausiaca, one of the principal documents that in¬ 
form us about Egyptian monasticism in the fourth 
century. Born in Galatia, he became a monk. After 
spending some time in Palestine at the Mount of 
Olives, when Rufinus and Melania the Elder were 
living there, he came to Egypt. He stayed for about 
three years near Alexandria, where he associated 
with the priest Isidorus, xenodochos of the church 
of Alexandria, and the learned didymus TUB bund. 
then moved to NITRIA, where there were still some 
monks who had lived during the period of ANTONY 
and amun. A year later, in 390, he reached the des¬ 
ert of the kellia, where he came to know macarius 
AI.RXANDRINUS, then priest of this desert, and be¬ 
came a disciple of EVAGRIUS PONTICUS. in the heart of 
the community of the monks whom their adversar¬ 
ies called Origenists. He remained at the Kellia for 
nine years. From there he went to visit the celebrat¬ 
ed recluse JOHN OF LYCOPOLIS. 



Palladius probably left Egypt in 399 or at the 
beginning or 400, shortly after the death of Evagrius 
and about the time the attack of the patriarch THEO- 
philus against the Origenist monks was raging. Con¬ 
secrated bishop of Helenopolis in Bithynia, he took 
up the defense of Saint john Chrysostom at the 
Synod of the Oak in 403, and was exiled by Emper¬ 
or Arcadius to Syene in Upper Egypt, then to Anti- 
noopolis, at which time he visited the monasteries 
of this region. On his return from exile, after the 
death of Theophilus (412), he went back to Galatia, 
and was then, according to the historian Socrates 
(PC 67, 821 A) translated from the see of llelenopo- 
lis to that of Aspona. It was there that, about 419/ 
420, a dozen years before his death, he wrote the 
Uistoria lausiaca, so called because it was dedicated 
to Lausus, the chamberlain of Patriarch Theodosi¬ 
us n. 

The work takes the form of a series of mono¬ 
graphs devoted to the principal monks ol this peri¬ 
od, especially those of Egypt. Its historical value 
seems assured. Palladius speaks for the most pail of 
monks he knew personally, or about whom he was 
able to collect the testimony of people who had 
known them, particularly in the deserts of Nitria, 
the Kellia, or SCHTIS; lor his information about the 
Pachomian monasteries of Upper Egypt, according 
to R. Draguct, he used a document of Coptic origin. 
However, with the information that he gathered at 
first hand, he mixed some stories of more or less 
marvelous character that were circulating in mo¬ 
nastic circles or were drawn, according to R. Reit- 
zcnstein, from imaginative literary sources. These 
elements, according to some modern critics (Bous- 
set, Reitzenslein), have sometimes damaged the his¬ 
torical value of his work. It early enjoyed a very 
wide diffusion, in the course of which the text was 
modified, so that it has come down to us in several 
recensions. E. C. Butler's edition reproduces one of 
them, probably the closest to the original text. Nu¬ 
merous translations were made into Latin, Syriac, 
Armenian, Arabic, and Ethiopic. Some fragments of 
a long recension have been preserved in Coptic, 
and were published by E. Amelineau and by M. 
Chaine. The relations between this long recension 
and the original text of Palladius—and in conse¬ 
quence the value to be attributed to this Coptic 
text—remain obscure. In its vocabulary and in cer¬ 
tain ideas used in it, the work bears evidence of the 
influence of Evagrius, but this evidence of the influ¬ 
ence of a master whose orthodoxy was in dispute 
does not seem to have been detrimental to its suc¬ 

There are numerous translations of the Historia 
lausiaca into modern languages. Special attention 
is called to the English translation by R. T. Meyer 

In addition to the Historia lausiaca, two other 
works have been preserved under the name of Pal¬ 
ladius, one concerning the defense ol Saint John 
Chrysostom, The Dialogue of Palladius of the Life of 
St. John Chrysostom, the other a curious work enti¬ 
tled On the Peoples of India and the Brahmins, the 
second part of which is drawn from a lost work of 


Am61ineau, E. De Historia Lausiaca quacnam sit 
hujus ad monachorum Aegyptiorum historiani 
scribendam utilitas. Paris, 1887. 

Bartclink, G. J. M. Palladio, La Storia lausiaca, testo 
critico e commento, intro. C. Mohrmann, trans. 
M. Barchiesi. Milan, 1975. 

Bousset, W. “Komposition und Charakter der His¬ 
toria Lausiaca." Nachrichten von der Kdniglichen 
Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Gottingen, 
Phil.-hist. Klasse (1917): 173-217. 

Chaine, M. “La double recension de VHistoire lausi- 
aque dans la version copte.” Revue de I'Orient 
chr&tien, ser. 3, 5 [25] (!925-1926):232-75. 
Draguet, R. “Le chapitre de VHistoire lausiaque sur 
les tabennfcsiotes derive-t-il d’une source copte?" 
Le Museon 57 (I944):53-146; 58 (1945):!5-96. 

_ "VHistoire lausiaque ,' une oeuvre 6crite 

dans 1’esprit d'Evagre.” Revue d'histoire ecclesia- 
stique 41 (!946):321-64; 42 (1947):5-49. 

_ Les formes syriaques de la matikre de VHist¬ 
oire lausiaque, 4 vols. CSCO 389-390. Louvain, 

Reitzenstein, R. Hellenislische Wunderzdhlungen. 
Leipzig, 1906. 

_ Historia monachorum und Uistoria Lausia¬ 
ca. Gottingen, 1916. 

Antoine Guillaumont 

PALM SUNDAY. See Feasts, Major. 

PAMBO, SAINT, or Pamo, fourth-century an¬ 
chorite who was one of the first settlers in nitria 
(feast day: 1 July in the West, 18 July in the East). 
In chapter 10 of the Lausiac History, palladius tells 
of the death of Pambo in 373 in the presence ol 
Melania the elder. At that time he was seventy years 
old. Thus he was born around 303. He was one of 
the first companions of Saint AMMON in the desert ol 



Nitria. When he was ordained a priest. Saint MACA¬ 
RIUS THE EGYPTIAN came from SCETIS to take pail in 
his celebration of the Eucharist. Saint ATHANASIUS 
held him in high regard and invited him to Alexan¬ 
dria. He was also in contact with Saint antony, who 
praised him highly. It was said that he was unlet¬ 
tered, hut, according to Palladius, lie was master of 
the fratres Iongi (tall brothers), renowned Origenist 
monks who were persecuted by Saint theophilus. 
patriarch of Alexandria. His posthumous fame suf¬ 
fered no harm from this, and the tradition of the 
apophthegmata PATRUM surrounded him with a glo¬ 
ry all his own. 

Particular note was made of the strictness of 
Pambo's daily last, his silence, his zeal for manual 
work, and the poverty of his garb. When he was 
asked questions, he often reflected for days and 
weeks before replying, and so was able to say that 
he had never regretted a word he had spoken. He 
died while weaving a basket that lie bequeathed to 
Melania. Several apothegms inserted in the alpha¬ 
betical collection are extracts from the Lausiac His¬ 
tory. He does not appear in the Copto-Arabic SYNAX- 



Chitty, D. J. The Desert a City. Oxford, 1966. 
Coteiicr, J. B., ed. Apophthegmata Patrum. PG 65, 
cols. 368-372. 

Evelyn-White, H. G. The Monasteries of the Wadi’n 
NatrOn. Pt. 2, The History of the Monasteries of 
Nitria and of Seeds. New York, 1932. 

Guy, J. C. Recherches sur la tradition grecque des 
Apophthegmata patrum. Brussels, 1962. 


PAMIN, SAINT, anchorite (also known as Bimln; 
feast day: 9 Kiyahk). Pamin appeals to have been a 
native of Minyat Khaslb, near Tirsa, in the nome of 
al-Ashmunayn. However, the Coptic fragments and 
the Arabic version say that he was a native of Ibsu- 
nah, to the west of Akhmlm. He was in the service 
of a noble, whom he left to become a monk. De¬ 
siring martyrdom, he went to antinoopolis, where 
he saw some Christians enduring torture and con¬ 
fessing Christ. He was himself subjected to numer¬ 
ous torments, but an edict came from Constantine 
that ordered the liberation of all those who were in 
prison. Christ appeared to Constantine and com¬ 
manded him to reckon all those who had been 

imprisoned as martyrs, and to call them confessors. 
Constantine ordered seventy-two to be brought to 
him, among whom was Apa nob. the confessor. 

Saint Pamin, endowed by God with the gift of 
healing, withdrew to a monastery outside the town 
of al-Ashmunayn. In particular he cured a noble 
matron, wife of the Roman prefect. He refused her 
presents except for the vessels to be used in the 
church, a paten, a chalice, and a cross of gold. 

The synaxarion speaks of Arians, who had their 
pseudo-bishops and their pseudo-martyrs, and se¬ 
duced many of the faithful, but the Coptic frag¬ 
ments speak of the Melitians. The assimilation of 
the latter with (he Arians goes back to ATHANASIUS 
himself (Barnard, pp. 181-89). It should be noted 
that the church of the Melitians called itself the 
church of the martyrs, which explains the expres¬ 
sion "these pseudo-martyrs." Pamin drove them 
out. and they did not return. 

Pamin's tomb was the site of a cult and of heal¬ 
ing. Numerous inscriptions prove that Pamin was 
celebrated in Egypt. 

He was honored at the White Monastery (DAYR 
anbA SHiNfJDAH), as is shown by four typika (Institut 
fran^ais d'Archeologie orientale, Coptic, no pagina¬ 
tion; Leiden, Insinger 33, in Pleyte and Boeser, 
1897, p. 445; Wessely, 1917, no. 265; Vienna, Na- 
tionalbibliothek, K9737). The majority of the frag¬ 
ments of Pamin’s Life have been edited by E. Ameli- 
ncau. The recension of the Synaxarion of the Copts 
from Upper Egypt gives an ample summary at 9 
Kiyahk. His Life is also in an Arabic manuscript 
from the Coptic Museum (Hist. 475, fols. 87r-109). 


Am6lineau, E. Monuments pour servir d 'histoire do. 
TEgypte chretienne aux IV', V', VT, et VIP siecles. 
Memoircs Publics par les membres de la Mission 
Archeologiquc Fran^aise du Caire 4. Paris, 1888. 
Barnard, L. W. "Athanasius and the Melitian 
Schism in Egypt." Journal of Egyptian Archaeolo¬ 
gy 59 (1969): 181—89. 

Graf, G. Catalogue de manuscrits arahes chretiens 
conserves au Caire. Studi c Testi 63. Vatican City, 

Pleyte, W., and P. A. A. Boeser. Manuscrits copies 
du Musee d'antiquites des Pays-Bas d Leide. Lei¬ 
den, 1897. 

Wessely, K. Griechische and koptischc Texte theolo- 
gisehen Inhalts, Vol. 5. Studien zur Palaographie 
und Papyruskundc 18. Leipzig, 1917. 

Ren£-Georges COOUIN 


PAMPHILUS, SAINT (c. 240-310), philoso¬ 
pher, teacher, and supporter of origen. who was 
martyred in Palestine (feast day: 16 February in the 
East, 1 June in the West). He was a friend of eusebius 
of CAESAREA, who wrote a biography of him, now 

Pamphilus is known through references in surviv¬ 
ing works of EUSEBIUS. JEROME, and Photius. Born in 
Beirut, he studied in Alexandria and then went to 
Caesarea, Palestine, where he was ordained presby¬ 
ter. He established a great library there and re¬ 
opened the school that Origen had founded. He 
gathered texts and commentaries of Scripture: Ori- 
gen’s Hexapla, Tel rap la, and commentaries on the 
minor prophets are mentioned by Jerome. After 
two years' imprisonment, he died as a martyr in 
February 310. With the help of Eusebius, he had 
written a defense of Origen in five books. Eusebius 
added a sixth book after Pamphilus’ death, adopted 
his name as a surname, and spoke of him as a holy 
martyr (Historia ecclesiaslica 6.32), a most eloquent 
man, a true philosopher ( Historia ecclesiaslica 
7.32), and "the most wonderful man of our time" 
(Historia ecclesiaslica 8.13). A brief account of his 
life and death is given by Eusebius in On the Mar¬ 
tyrs of Palestine. 

An outline of the chapters of the Acts of the Apos¬ 
tles was confidently attributed to Pamphilus and 
published by Montfaucon. Pamphilus' Apology for 
Origen was directed to an influential group of Ori- 
genist confessors, condemned to the copper mines 
at Phaeno in southern Palestine, who were critical 
of any philosophical tendencies and of those who 
avoided martyrdom. 

The first book of the Apology survives in the Latin 
translation of RUHNUS. However, it has been argued 
that the work is described anonymously bv Photius 
in sufficient detail for reconstruction. Fifteen objec¬ 
tions include Origen's claim that one should not 
pray to the Son, that the Son does not know the 
Father as the Father knows Himself, that souls 
transmigrate into other bodies, that there is no eter¬ 
nal punishment or resurrection of the flesh. Pam¬ 
philus attacks the critics of Origen: some have not 
read him, some have read selectively, some have 
received strength from him and then turned against 
him; all have done great harm. Origen’s own words 
must be the basis of understanding and judgment. 
He is shown to profess all essential doctrines. Fur¬ 
ther, many Egyptian bishops did not agree with 
Demetrius' condemnation of Origen. Pamphilus 
lists the achievements of Origen for the word of 

God, drawing on the traditions he had learned in 
Alexandria. Origen is defended by showing either 
that the doubtful doctrine was hypothetical or that 
other respected teachers had held the same beliefs. 
The final book reports the martyrdom of Pamphilus 
and of the principal confessors to whom the apolo¬ 
gy had been addressed. 


Nautin, P. Origene: Sa vie et son oeuvre. Paris, 

Eric Francis Osborn 

poet. He was bom in Panopolis (akhmIm), and stud¬ 
ied philosophy in Alexandria and Athens with the 
avowedly pagan disciples who gathered around the 
philosophers of the day (R6mondon, 1952). After a 
stay in Byzantium, where he perhaps rose as high as 
consul (Asmus, 1913; von Haehling, 1980), he went 
in 483-484 to Egypt, to win the heathen for the 
rebel Illus. At the end of November or beginning of 
December 484 he died with the rebel. He ranks as 
the last pagan poet, influenced by nonnos of pano- 
polis. According to the Suda (Adler, 1967-1971, 
4.13.261.), he wrote Etymologion apodosis and Isaur- 
ika Katalogaden. Both works are lost, Fragments 
have survived of a description of a late autumn day 
and of an Encomium on the patrician Thcagenes 
(Uvrea, in Krause, 1979) in hexameters modeled on 
those of Nonnos. 


Adler, A., ed. Suidae lexicon [the Suda], 5 vols. 

Stuttgart, 1928-1938; repr. 1967-1971. 

Asmus, R. "Pamprepios, ein byzantinischer Gelehr- 
ter und Staatsmann des 5. Jahrhunderts." Byzanti- 
nische Zeitschrift 22 (1913):320-47. 

Haehling, R. von. "Damascius und die heidnische 
Opposition im 5. Jahrhundert nach Christus." 
Jahrhuch fiir Antike und Christentum 23 (1980): 
82-95, 92-94. 

Keydell, R. "Pamprepios." In Paulys Real encyclo¬ 
pedic, Vol. 36, pp. 409-415. Stuttgart, 1949. 
Krause, M. "Agypten II." In Reallexikon fiir Antike 
und Christentum, Suppl. Vol. 1, pp. 14-51, 68-88. 
Stuttgart, 1985. 

Pamprepii Panopolilani Carmine (P. Gr. V in dob. 
29788 A-C), ed. H. Livrea. Leipzig, 1979. 

1880 PANELS 

R6mondon, R. "L'Egypte et la supreme resistance 
au christianisme (5 e /7 e $)-" Bulletin de Vlnstitut 
fran^ais d'Archeologie orientate 51 (1952):63-78. 

Martin Krause 

PANELS. See Woodwork, Coptic. 

PANEPHYSIS. See Monasteries in the Daqahliy- 
yah Province. 

PANESNEU, SAINT, a martyr whose story is 
typical of the legends of the martyrs that predomi¬ 
nated in Egypt. The surviving text begins with the 
trial before Culcianus in which Panesneu presents 
himself as a deacon from Pakierkie near Pemche 
(Oxyrhynchus). A folio (now in Vienna) ends with 
the martyr declaring his readiness to make a sacri¬ 
fice to the gods; this declaration is part of a simulat¬ 
ed sacrifice in which a martyr behaves as if he were 
going to sacrifice but in reality is acting to the 
detriment of paganism. After a lacuna, the text re¬ 
counts a rescue by Michael from the furnace of the 
bath. There follow two miraculous healings in pris¬ 
on, using oil that Panesneu consecrates with 
prayers and with which he heals the prison overse¬ 
er, ijesamon. and Dionysius, the brother of Julius of 
Aqfahs, the friend of martyrs, who is well known 
from many legends. 

W. Till (1936) has reprinted an improved version 
of the text initially published by A. A. Giorgi and 
has augmented it by a Vienna folio. 


Baumeister, T. Martyr invictus, p. 124; see also pp. 

94ff. (on Julius of Aqfahs). Milnster, 1972. 
Delehayc, H. "Les Martyrs d'Egypte." Analecta Bol- 
landiana 40 (1922):5-154, 299-364. 

Giorgi, A. A. De mlraculis Sancti Coluthi et reliquiis 
actorum Sancti Panesniv martyrum thebaica frag¬ 
ment a duo .... Bibliotheca Magiographica Orien- 
talis 834, pp. 178-93. Rome. 1793. 

Sauget, J. M. "Panesneu Panesnew." Bibliotheca 
Sanctorum 10 (1968):90-92. 

Till, W. Koptische Heiligen und Martyrerlegenden, 
Vol. 1. Orientalia Christiana Analecta 102, pp. 
94-106. Rome, 1935. 

Theofried Baumeister 

PANINE AND PANEU, legendary saints and 
objects of a ninth-century cult. The surviving por¬ 
tions of this attractive legend were edited from the 
remains of two codices of the White Monastery (dayk 
anbA shinOdah) by G. Zoega (1810), C. Wessely 
(1917), W. Till (1935), and T. Orlandi (1978). To his 
edition Till added a German translation, in which 
he also translates the folios edited by Wessely. Or¬ 
landi provides a complete edition of the items al¬ 
ready published and those initially edited by him 
with an Italian translation. To an extent, the lacu¬ 
nae can be filled in from the Arabic Synaxarium 
Alexandrinum (Forget, 1953, pp. 183-86; 1954, pp. 

According to Orlandi, we can divide the legend 
into three parts. The first deals with the school days 
of the two saints and contains an episode that may 
well have been developed from the name Panine 
(W. E. Crum, 1939, p. 81). Alexander, the elder 
contemporary of Symphronius at school and a rela¬ 
tion of the hegumenos Arianus, smashes the young 
Symphronius’ thumbs in annoyance at the latter's 
progress in writing. After they are miraculously 
healed, the teacher asks, "Are you not the boy with 
the broken thumbs?" Thereafter Symphronius is 
called Panine (the person with the "broken" 
thumbs). The second part deals with the monastic 
life of the two friends in the valley of al-Qalamun 
(southeast of the Fayyum) and then on Mount Ebot 
near Psoi (ALMINSHAH). This brings them into con¬ 
tact with the famous martyr bishop, PSOTE OF PSOI, 
who consecrates a newly constructed church. From 
the synaxarion we learn that at the same time he 
ordains Panine as a priest and Paneu as a deacon. 
The bishop predicts martyrdom for both the saints. 
From this section it is clear that the legend of the 
martyrdom of Arianus was already known to the 
author (see the articles APOLLONIUS AND PHILEMON 
and arianus). The third part contains the martyr¬ 
dom described in simple terms in which we do not 
find the scenes of restoration that are so popular 

The founding of the cult is, however, important 
for this legend. According to the Synaxarion an 
angel appears to both the saints before their death 
and promises a blessing to those who venerate 
them. They are beheaded at a lake near Idfu. After 
the soldiers wash their swords in the lake, its water 
gains salutary powers. When the persecution has 
ended, a church is built in the neighborhood of the 
lake above their graves, where according to the 
Synaxarion, miracles and healings continue to oc- 



cur. The many placcnames suggest that the legend 
was written by someone with a good knowledge of 
the geography of Upper Egypt. The writer is famil¬ 
iar with ANTJNOOPOUS and its traditions (the school 
days of both martyrs are there; there are also con¬ 
nections to Alexander, a relative of Arianus, and to 
the martyrdom of Arianus). As the story of the mar¬ 
tyrdom of Arianus is presupposed, the legend of 
Panine and Paneu might well belong to the final 
layer of Coptic literature on martyrs. The terminus 
ante quern is the ninth century, from which both 
manuscripts probably come. The association of mo- 
nasticism, ecclesiastical office, and martyrdom is 
intended to emphasize the importance of the saints 
as the object of a cult (on the monastic martyrs, cf. 
T. Baumeister, 1979, pp. 218-20). 


Baumeister, T. Martyr invictus, pp. 67, 92, 143. 
MUnster, 1972. 

-"Heinrich Brttcker.” Jahrbuch fur Antike 

und Christen turn 22 (1979):218-20. 

Crum, W. E. A Coptic Dictionary. Oxford, 1939. 
Delehaye, H. "Les martyrs d'Egypte. Analecta Bob 
landiana 40 (1922):5-154; 299-364. 

Orlandi, T. "11 dossier copto del martire Psote." 
Testi e documenti per lo studio dell'antichitd 61 

Sauget, J. M. "Panine c Panew." Bibliotheca Sancto¬ 
rum 10 (1968): 101 -104. 

Till, W. "Koptische Heiligen- und Martyrerlegenden 
I." Orientalia Christiana Analecta 102 (1935): 

Wessely, C. "Griechische und koptische Texte theol- 
ogischen Inhalts V." Studien zur Palaeographic 
und Papyruskunde 18 (1917):34-39, no. 271. 
Zoega, G. Calalogus codicum Copticorum manu 
scriptorum qui in Museo Borgiano Velitris adser- 
vantur, pp. 548-51, nos. CCXXIV-CCXXV. Rome, 
1810. Reprinted, Leipzig 1903. 

Theofried Baumeister 

PANOPOLIS. See Akhmlm. 

PANTAENUS, according to Eusebius (Historic 
ecclesiastica V.10.4), master of a school in Alexan¬ 
dria (c. A.D. 180). Pantaenus had been a Stoic phi¬ 
losopher who displayed love and zeal for the divine 
word. He took the gospel to the nations of the East, 
traveling even to India. In his day there were many 
apostolic evangelists, and in India he found the 

Gospel of Matthew already existing in Hebrew (Ara¬ 
maic), taken there by Bartholomew. Eusebius cites 
a letter of Alexander of Jerusalem in which the 
writer claims that both he and origf.n were pupils 
of Pantaenus. This is difficult to accept because of 
the relative ages of the three concerned. More cer¬ 
tain is his influence on clement of Alexandria 
(Stromateis 1.11.2). Jerome (De viris illustribus 36) 
claims that Pantaenus was sent to India by Bishop 
DEMETRIUS l of Alexandria (189-231), and that he 
brought back a copy of Matthew in Hebrew. How¬ 
ever, since Pantaenus became head of the school in 
Alexandria around 180 after returning from his trip 
to India, but Demetrius was not ordained bishop 
until 189, it is unlikely that it was Demetrius who 
sent Pantaenus on this expedition. Two passages 
from Pantaenus are preserved. The first claims that 
God knows existing things as acts of His will and 
not by sense or reason (Maximus the Confessor, 
Scholia to Saint Gregory of Nazianzen). The second 
declares that in prophecy tenses are indefinite; a 
present tense may refer to any time. Pantaenus has 
been considered a possible author of To Diognetus. 


Bardy, G. "Aux origines de l'6cole d'Alexandrie." 
Recherches des sciences religieuses 27 (1937):65- 

Cose, P. Biography in Late Antiquity: A Quest for the 
Holy Man. Berkeley, Calif., 1983. 

Lilia, S. "Panteno." Dizionario patristico e di anti- 
chita cristiana, Vol. 2. Rome, 1984. 

Marrou, H. I. "A Diognfcte.” Scientia 33 (1951 ):266- 
68 . 

Eric Francis Osuorn 

PANTALEON, SAINT, a fouilh-century martyr 
of Nicomedia under Maximinus (feast day: 15 
Babah) (cf. Forget, 1954, p. 69). His Passion is pre¬ 
served in a Greek version and a Coptic version. The 
latter exists in two manuscripts, one in the Egyptian 
Museum, Turin (cat. 63000, 15; ed. Rossi, 1887- 
1892) and one at Utrecht University (only fragments 
of two sheets, ed. Quispel and Zandee, 1962). There 
are certain discrepancies between the two Coptic 
manuscripts, but on the whole their version is close 
to the Greek. 

Pantaleon is the son of Eustorgius, a magistrate of 
Nicomedia. He learns the art of medicine from Eu- 
phrosinus, and the emperor wants him to be the 



successor to Euphrosinus. In the meantime, Panta¬ 
loon is convened by the old man Hermolaus, who 
teaches him to cure the sick by invoking Christ. He 
revives a boy who has been bitten by a viper. He 
tries to convert his father and heals a blind man in 
his presence. However, envious colleagues bring 
accusations against him to Maximinus. Pantaloon's 
trial takes place with the usual account of argu¬ 
ments, miracles, visions, and tortures. After a last 
vision of Christ, he is martyred, and an ensuing 
conversion of the inhabitants of Nicomedia takes 

The text seems to be a translation from the Greek 
and would have been made in the "classical” peri¬ 
od (cf. HAGIOGRAPHY). It should be noted that it is 
the source of the text of the Passion of a martyr 
named OLYMP1US unknown in other traditions. 


Lefort, L. T. "lin Martyr inconnu: Olympios." Le 
Museon 63 (1950):!-23. 

Ouispel, G., and J. Zandee. "Some Coptic Frag¬ 
ments from the Martyrdom of St. Pantaleon." 
Verbum Caro 16 (1962):42-52. 

Rossi, F. "Un nuovo codice copto del Museo Egizio 
di Torino." Atti Accadcmia del Lincei, ser. 5, no. 1 

_ I Papyri copti del Museo Egizio di Torino, 2 

vols., 10 fasc. Turin, 1887-1892. 

Tito Orlandi 

PAPHNUTIUS, filth-century archimandrite of 
Tabennfcsfi. Paphnutius succeeded Victor as abbot 
general of the Tabennesiotes (van Lantschoot, p. 
20, n.24), and preceded Martyrius. He visited Patri¬ 
arch Dioscorus, exiled in Gangra (Nau, 1903, p. 
297), and obtained a miracle from the patriarch, 
who healed a paralytic. Paphnutius’ tenure of office 
must have been fairly short. The community of the 
Pachomians appears to have been unsettled during 
the reign of Marcian (450-457), and the great 
church of Pachomius at pbow. begun under Victor, 
was completed only under Martyrius. 

Paphnutius was celebrated at the White Monas¬ 
tery (dayr ANBA shinOdah), as the extant typika 
show (London, British Library, Or. 3580A-3, frag. 
A, ed. Crum, 1905, no. 146; Vienna, Nationalbiblio- 
thek, K.9726 1 ’, ed. Wessely, 1917, vol. 18, no. 266 f ; 
Vienna, Nationalbibliothek, K9734). He also is men¬ 
tioned in the History of Dioscorus, preserved in Syr¬ 
iac and in Coptic (see Crum, 1903; and Nau, 1903). 

There is reference to Paphnutius in the panegyr¬ 
ic, attributed to the patriarch DIOSCORUS. on MACARIUS 
of tkow (edited from the Bohairic version by Am- 
elineau, 1888, pp. 92-164, and from the Sahidic by 
Johnson, 1980). His feast day is 6 Ba’Gnah. 


Amelineau, E. Monuments pour servir a I'histoire de 
VEgyptc chretienne aux IV r , V r , VT, ei VIP siecles. 
Memoires Publics par les Membres de la Mission 
Arch6ologique Franchise au Caire 4. Paris, 1888. 
Crum. W. E. "Coptic Texts Relating to Dioscorus of 
Alexandria." Society of Biblical Archeology Pro¬ 
ceedings 25 (1903):267-76. 

_ Catalogue o\ the Coptic Manuscripts in the 

British Museum. London, 1905. 

Johnson, 1). W. A Panegyric on Macarius , 2 vols. 

CSCO 415-416. Louvain,’ 1980. 

Lantschoot, A. van. "Allocution de Timolhde d'Alex- 
andrie.” Le Museon 47 (1924): 13-56. 

Nau, F. "Histoirc de Dioscore, patriarche d'Alex- 
andrie, dcrite par son disciple Th6opiste." Journal 
asialique ser. 10, 1 (1903):5—108, 241-310. 
Wessely, K. Griechische und koptische Texte theolo- 
gischen Inhalts. Studien zur PalSographie und Pa- 
pyruskunde 18. Leipzig, 1917.*-Georges COOUIN 

PAPHNUTIUS, SAINT, tenth-century monk 
and bishop (feast day: 11 Bashans). From his youth 
Paphnutius was a monk in the Monastery of Macari¬ 
us (Wadi al-Natrun), where he remained for thirty- 
five years. The patriarch PHI LOTH EUS (979-1003) 
consecrated him bishop (the synaxarion does not 
mention the see). He continued to wear monk's 
clothing except when celebrating the holy liturgy. 
He was bishop for thirty-two years. The history of 
the patriarchs makes no reference to Paphnutius 
in the notice devoted to Patriarch Philotheus. 

Ren£-Georges Coouin 


the Ascetic or Bab Nuda, an anchorite in the West¬ 
ern Desert (feast day: 15 Amshir). The Copto-Arabic 
synaxarion briefly summarizes a Coptic text in 
which one Paphnutius tells of a journey he made in 
the inner desert, that is, the desert farthest h orn the 
Nile, in search of hermits living in this perfect soli¬ 
tude. The narration is preserved in Coptic, Greek, 
and Latin, as well as various Eastern languages (see 
Saint onophrius for details of manuscripts and edi¬ 



Alter a journey of lour days and four nights, 
Paphnutius found a cave, the occupant of which 
had been dead for some time. He saw to his burial 
and then, a little farther on, met a hermit called 
Timotheus, who was living among the antelopes but 
had a box at his disposal and was close to a spring 
and a date palm. This man, a monk from a monas¬ 
tery in the Thebaid, had become a hermit near his 
monastery, and after cohabiting for six months with 
a nun, went into the heart of the desert to expiate 
his sin. After leaving him, Paphnutius went "into 
the inner desert of the Oasis," "where the Mazices 
live," says a Greek text (ed. F. N. Nau, in Revue de 
iOrient chretien 10 LI905J:412), which may indicate 
the oasis of oxyrhynchus, today called al-BahnasS, 
for the Mazices lived in the desert southwest of 
Scetis. This passage in the text could correspond to 
a second journey by Paphnutius. He took bread and 
water for four days, but had to walk for another 
four days without food or drink. He thought he was 
going to die, but a man of light came to rescue him. 
Four more days passed, and he was still assisted by 
the man of light. Finally, at the end of seventeen 
days, he observed a man of fire, covered by long 
hair and resembling a leopard. This was Onophrius, 
who recounted his life to Paphnutius and died after 
dictating his last wishes. 

Paphnutius buried him, then had to continue his 
journey, for the date palm and the hut of Onophrius 
crumbled immediately alter he died. Alter three 
days and three nights, he came across a small cell 
and a hermit clothed in palm leaves. The hermit 
had lived with three other brothers in this pail of 
the desen for sixty years like Onophrius. but they 
lived on loaves miraculously brought to them. They 
refused to tell him their names—in contrast with 
the other hermits he met—but asked him to make 
their way of life known in Egypt. Paphnutius stayed 
with them for one day, then went on his way. 

He came to a spring with date palms and all 
kinds of fruit trees, and thought he had arrived in 
Paradise. Four young men clothed in sheepskins in 
the form of aprons came to him. These were sons 
of councillors from Oxyrhynchus who, after attend¬ 
ing the schools in the town, had decided together to 
embrace the hermit life. After four days' walking, 
they had been led to this place by a man of light. 
There they found an old man who taught them the 
rules of the hermit life and died a year later. They 
had been living there for six years as semian¬ 
chorites, meeting on Saturday and Sunday for Di¬ 
vine Liturgy; an angel brought the Eucharist to 
them. Paphnutius remained with them for seven 

days, and on Saturday participated with them in the 
miraculous Communion brought by the angel, 
which was repeated on Sunday morning. The 
names of these hermits were John, Andrew, Hera- 
clamon, and Theophilus. After their refusal to keep 
him with them, Paphnutius left, and at the end of 
seven days' walking, met some monks from Scetis, 
who transcribed his story and took it to their mon¬ 
astery, to deposit it in the church. 

The work attributed to ABO SALIH THE ARMENIAN 
1985 relates that Paphnutius, the one who visited 
Onophrius, lived at DAYR AL-SHAM*. also called Dayr 
al-Shayyalin, situated on the left bank of the Nile in 
the district of Giza. After his journey into the desert, 
he is said to have become a disciple of Saint 
macarius the great at Scetis, then to have lived at 
Dayr al-Sham*, where he died and where his body 
was buried. The author of the text adds that, "ac¬ 
cording to his biography,” he died on 15 Amshlr, 
which presupposes a source different from that for 
the journey in the desert. 

Should we identify the author of the narrative 
about Timotheus, Onophrius, and the other hermits 
with Saint PAPHNUTIUS OF SCETIS, the disciple and 
successor of Macarius the Great, as is done by the 
document attributed to Abu Salih? That Paphnutius, 
surnamed Kephalas, was born between 301 and 
311, and had the reputation of loving solitude. 
Some authors, such as De 1-acy O'Leary (pp. 219- 
20), do not hesitate to make this identification. 
However that may be, no other document, to our 
knowledge, affirms that the disciple of Macarius 
died at Dayr al-ShanT. Curiously, the Synaxarion 
has no notice about Paphnutius of Scetis, alluding 
to him only as a disciple of Macarius in the passage 
devoted to the latter at 27 BaramhSt. 

A History of the Monks of the Desert, in fact of the 
hermits living in Upper Egypt and on the islands of 
the First Cataract, is attributed to a certain Paph¬ 
nutius. It seems that this is another person. 


O'Leary, De L. The Saints of Egypt. London, 1937. 

Ren6-Georges Coquin 


century monk who was steward of the komonia 
(community) established by Saint pachomius. A 
younger brother of Saint THEODORlJS OF TABENNPSE, 
Paphnutius came to the monastery of Tabennese a 
few years after his brother. When Pachomius estab- 


lished the general administration of the koinonia at 
pdow, he appointed Paphnutius as the first great 
steward of the koinonia, with the responsibility of 
receiving the fruits of the labor of all the brothers 
and providing for all their needs. Paphnutius died 
during the plague of 346, as did Pachomius and 
many of the older brothers. 

Armand Veilleux 


one who belongs to God," name borne, particularly 
in the fourth century, by several monks among 
whom it is sometimes difficult to distinguish. 

John CASSIAN, during his sojourn in Egypt be¬ 
tween 385 and 400, knew an Abba Paphnutius who 
was then priest of scetis and to whom he ascribes 
his third conference, "On the Three Renuncia¬ 
tions." Paphnutius was renowned for his taste for 
seclusion. He had established his cell several miles 
from the church, where he was seen only on Satur¬ 
days and Sundays; on the other days it was very 
difficult to see him. For this reason he was nick¬ 
named "Bubal," from the name of the desen ante¬ 
lope. According to John Cassian, Paphnutius was 
then over ninety years old. He was still alive in 399, 
since, according to Cassian (X, 2-3), in that year he 
was the only priest of Scetis to welcome the letter 
of Patriarch THEOPHILUS denouncing anthropomor- 
phite errors. In the Life of Saints Maximus and 
Domitius (Amclineau, 1894, p. 312) he is called “a 
disciple of Macarius" (the Egyptian) and "father of 
Scetis" after him. However, according to Cassian 
(XVIII, 15) he succeeded Isidorus in this function. 

On the other hand, in chapter 47 of his Historia 
lausiaca, PALLADIUS speaks of a Paphnutius sur- 
named Kephalas and reports a long discourse that 
he delivered before Palladius himself—hence after 
390—on the reasons virtuous monks fall away. This 
Paphnutius, it seems, lived at nitria or the kellia. if 
he is to be identified with the disciple of MACARIUS 
ALEXANDRINUS who bore the name and is mentioned 
by Palladius in chapter 18. He also is mentioned in 
the apophthegmata PATRUM, once with the surname 
Kephalas. Among the apothegms in the alphabeti¬ 
cal collection that are placed under the name of 
Paphnutius, it is difficult to know which ones 
should be attributed to him. 

In the opinion of E. C. Butler (1904, Vol. 2, pp. 
224-25) and H. G. Evelyn-White (1932, p. 121), 
among others, Paphnutius the Bubal and Paphnu¬ 
tius Kephalas arc the same person. In favor of this 
identification, Butler puts forward some literal cor¬ 

respondences that he has noted in the discourse of 
the Bubal in Cassian, and that of Kephalas in Palla¬ 
dius. The latter mentions, among the monks whom 
Melania the Elder met at Nitria when she visited 
the desert about 373 and whom she followed dur¬ 
ing their exile in Palestine, a "Paphnutius of Sce¬ 
tis." Perhaps this is another person; the identifica¬ 
tion remains uncertain. Normally the surnames 
served to distinguish people of the same name. 

On the other hand, it is certain that the anchorite 
Paphnutius who appears in the historia monacho- 
RUM IN aegypto must be distinguished from the pre¬ 
ceding two. He lived in the Thebaid, in the region 
of Herakleopolis, where he died shortly before the 
travelers passed through that region in 394-395. 
Perhaps this Paphnutius is the one to whom is at¬ 
tributed the Life of onoi’HRIUS edited by E. A. W. 
Budge (1914, pp. 205-224) and by E. Amdineau 
(1885, pp. 166-94). 

Several Greek papyri in the British Museum (P 
Lond. 1923-1929), published by H. I. Bell (pp. 103- 
120) preserve a series of letters addressed to a 
monk Paphnutius by various people who ask for the 
help of his prayers. They are dated by their editor 
in the middle of the fourth century. There is, how¬ 
ever, nothing to identify this Paphnutius with any of 
the preceding ones. 


Amclineau, E. C. "Voyage d’un moine 6gyptien 
dans le desert." Recueii de travaux 6 (1885): 166— 

_"Vie de Maxime et Domece." In Monuments 

pour servir a Thistoire de TEgypte chrcticnnc. His- 
toire des monastics de la Basse-Egypte, p. 312. 
Leroux, 1894. 

Bell, H. I. Jews and Christians in Egypt, pp. 103 — 
120. London, 1924. 

Budge, E. A. Coptic Martyrdoms, pp. 205-224. Lon¬ 
don, 1914. 

Cassian, John. Conferences, ed. E. Pichery. Sources 
chretienncs 42, pp. 138-165. Paris, 1955. 54, pp. 
75-77. Paris, 1958. 64, pp. 28-31. Paris, 1959. 
Evelyn-White, H. G. The Monasteries of the Wadi’n 
Nalrun, Pt. 2, The History of the Monasteries of 
Nitria and of Scetis. New York, 1932. 

Antoine Guii.iaumont 

PAPOHE OF BAWlT. See Phib, Saint. 


erary papyri are written, depending on their age, on 



papyrus, parchment, or paper. P. E. Kahlc (1954, 
pp. 269-78) has published a list of earlier Coptic 
literary manuscripts, known clown to 1954, with 
information on the writing material (papyrus or 
parchment) and the writing format (one or two 
columns). It comprises manuscripts from the third 
to the fifth century, arranged according to the Cop¬ 
tic dialects. To these must be added the early papy¬ 
rus codices published since 1954, above all the Sa- 
hidic manuscripts of books of the Old Testament 
and New Testament from the Bodmer collection, 
edited by R. Kasser (see BODMER papyri). 

From the Chester Beatty collection the manu¬ 
script of Joshua, dated to the fourth century and 
edited by A. F. Shore, should be mentioned. The 
second part of it is in the Bodmer collection (Bod¬ 
mer XXI). Among New Testament manuscripts, ref¬ 
erence should be made to the three parchment 
manuscripts of the Gospels of Mark, Luke, and 
John, written in the first half of the fifth century (P. 
Palau Rib. 181-83, published by H. Queckc), as 
well as the Berlin Acts published by F. Hintze and 
H. M. Schenke. Papyrus Bodmer VI, a manuscript 
of Proverbs written in the Proto-Sahidic dialect and 
published in 1960 by Kasser, also belongs with the 

In the Middle Egyptian dialect four Bible manu¬ 
scripts have been found: three of the New Testa¬ 
ment (Matthew, Acts, and letters of Paul) and one 
of the Old Testament (Psalter). Of these, two have 
been published: the Gospel of Matthew (Schenke) 
and the letters of Paul (Quecke and Orlandi). 

An early Bohairic manuscript is Papyrus Bodmer 
III, published by Kasser in 1971. Not mentioned by 
Kahle is a manuscript of the Gospel of John from 
the University of Michigan collection (P. Mich 
3521), which was published in 1962 by Husselman. 

So far there is no such list of the manuscripts 
from the sixth century on. Only some of the Sahidic 
manuscripts of this period arc included in van 
Lantschoot's work (1929) on the colophons of Cop¬ 
tic manuscripts. 

While the early manuscripts have for the most 
part preserved writings of the Old and New Testa¬ 
ments, intertestamental literature, apocryphal writ¬ 
ings of the Old Testament and the New Testament, 
the apostolic fathers, apologists, and original writ¬ 
ings of the Gnostics and Manichaeans, the later 
manuscripts contain, in addition to the biblical lit¬ 
erature, especially hagiographical and homiletic 
works (see literature, Coptic), as well as profane 
literature (see papyri. Coptic medical). 

The state of preservation of the manuscripts is 
varied. The dry climate of Egypt is favorable to 

their preservation, so far as the manuscripts were 
found in the dry desert soil, whether in the ruins of 
Coptic monasteries or in graves. Actually, many 
manuscripts have survived in very good condition, 
such as the Papyrus Palau biblical manuscripts 
mentioned above. Others, such as the Manichaean 
papyri (see papyrus discoveries), are more poorly 
preserved. Despite the large number of extant man¬ 
uscripts fiom Egypt in comparison with those from 
other countries, the number is small in comparison 
with the number of the literary manuscripts written 
in Egypt. Many Christian manuscripts were de¬ 
stroyed in the persecutions, or in the attacks by 
nomads on the Coptic monasteries situated on the 
edge of the desert (e.g., in the WSdl al-Natrun). The 
Egyptian state church attempted to destroy manu¬ 
scripts of Christian sects or non-Christian religious 
communities (e.g., Manichaeans and Gnostics), or 
those of Christian authors whose orthodoxy came 
under suspicion (e.g., OR1GEN and didymus THE 

Even after their discovery in modem times the 
manuscripts—so far as they were not found in a 
scientific undertaking—were threatened by further 
danger. Finders, who generally did not know the 
value of their discovery, to some extent heedlessly 
destroyed them, or destroyed parts in the division 
of the find into several lots. Through the antiquities 
trade these passed into various collections. Rela¬ 
tively few of the manuscripts recognized as belong¬ 
ing together have been reassembled through ex¬ 
change between the collections (see PAPYRUS 
COLLECTIONS). In most cases it remains a matter of 
knowing which pages in different collections once 
belonged to a single codex. This work, which be¬ 
longs to the realm of codicology, is the presupposi¬ 
tion for the publication of literary manuscripts. In 
the case of biblical manuscripts (Schmitz and Mink, 
1986, pp. 29ff.), such reconstruction of codices is 
still relatively easy but time-consuming; and since 
there are concordances for these texts, it demands 
good knowledge of the literature for other groups 
of texts. Indexes of works of literature preserved 
complete are also important. 


Hintze, F., and H.-M. Schenke. Die Berliner Hand - 
schri/t der sahidischcn Apostelgeschichte. Berlin, 

Husselman, E. M. The Gospel oj John in Fayumic 
Coptic. Ann Arbor, Mich., 1962. 

Kahlc, P. E. Bala'izah. Coptic Texts from Deir el- 
Bala'izah in Upper Egypt, Vol. 1. London, 1954. 



Lantschoot. A. van. Recueil des colophons dcs man- 
uscrits chretien d'F.gypte. Bibliotheque du Museon 

1. Louvain, 1929. 

O'Leary, De L. E. Primary Guide to Coptic Literary 
Material. London, 1938. 

Ouecke, H. Das Markusevangelium saidisch. Papy- 
rologica Castroctaviana 4. Barcelona, 1972. 

_ Das l.ukasevangelium saidisch. Papyrologica 

Castroctaviana 6. Barcelona, 1977. 

- Das Johannesevangelium saidisch. Papyrolo¬ 
gica Castroctaviana 11. Barcelona, 1984. 

Quecke, H., and T. Orlandi. Lettere di San Paolo in 
copto-ossirinchita. Papiri della Universita degli 
Studi di Milano. Milan, 1974. 

Schenke, H.-M. Das Matthdus-Evangelium im mittel • 
dgyptischen Dialekt des Koptischen (Codex Schei- 
de). Berlin, 1981. 

Schmitz, F.-J., and G. Mink. Lisle der koptischen 
Handschri/ten des Neuen Testaments, Vol. 1, Die 
sahidischen Handschri/ten der Evangelien, pt. 1. 
Arbeiten zur Neutestamentlichen Textforschung 
8. Berlin and New York, 1986. 

Shore, A. F. Joshua I-VI and Other Passages in 
Coptic. Dublin, 1963. 

Martin Krause 

nous Coptic medical literature, only remnants have 
survived, as is shown by the high numbers of the 
extant numbered pages. These remnants have come 
down to us on parchment, on papyrus, on oslraca, 
on paper, and on walls (as graffiti). Except for the 
second parchment manuscript (see below) the texts 
have been translated and edited by W. Till in Die 
Arzneikunde der Kopten (Berlin, 1951). Only a part 
is dated. The copies range from the sixth to the 
twelfth century. From the library catalog of the 
monastery of Elias in West Thebes (see below, 
ostracon 7), as well as from the graffiti (see below, 
graffiti 1 and 2) and the ostraca deriving from mon¬ 
asteries (see below, ostraca 4 and 5), it is clear that 
at least these texts came from Coptic monasteries. 
In addition, the seventh-century document from Id- 
fu (British Museum, Oriental 8903, published by 
W. E. Crum, in "Koptische ZUnfte und das Pfeffer- 
monopol," Zeitschri/t fiir Agyptische Sprache und 
Altertumskunde 60 [ 1925]: 103— 111) shows that 
there was a guild of doctors there (11. 107IT.). In the 
middle of the fifth century SIIENUTE appointed seven 
doctors to give medical treatment to men wounded 
in the invasion by the Kushites (J. I.eipoldt, "Ein 
Kloster linden Kriegsnot. Schenutcs Bericht iiber 
die Tatigkeit des Weissen Klosters bei Sohag wahr- 
end eines Ein falls der Kuschiten," in Festschrift fiir 
Ernst Barnikol zum 70. Geburlstag, pp. 52-56 [Ber¬ 

lin, 1964]). A group of Coptic doctors is known to 
us by name (K. S. Kolia, "Namen christlicher Arzte 
der koptischen Zeit in Agypten," Die Welt des Ori¬ 
ents 14 [ 1983]: 189—95). 

Remains of Parchment Manuscripts 

1. A parchment leaf with the page numbers 214- 
15 (siglum BA); published by U. Bouriant, "Frag¬ 
ment d'un livre de medecine en copte thebain,” 
Academic des inscriptions et belles-lettres. Comptes 
rendus ser. 4, 15 (1887):319-20, 374-79; German 
trans. in W. C. Till, Die Arzneikunde der Kopten, p. 
112 (Berlin, 1951). To this same manuscript belong 
two parchment leaves with the page numbers 241 — 
44 (siglum ZB), published by G. Zoega in Catalogus 
codicorum copticorum manuscriptorum qui in Museo 
Borgiano Velitris adservantur, pp. 626-30 (Leipzig, 
1903; reprint of Rome, 1810); see also J. F. Cham- 
pollion, "Recetles m&licales pour les maladies cu- 
tan£es, traduites d'un fragment egyptien, en dia- 
lecte thebain," Revue archeologique 11 (1854): 333- 
42 (edited by E. Poitevin after the death of Cham- 
pollion); E. Delauricr, "Fragment d'un trait6 de 
medecine copte laisant partie de la collection des 
manuscrits du cardinal Borgia publi£e par Zoega," 
Journal asialique 4 (1843):433—52 (translation with 
notes), German trans. in Till, Arzneikunde, pp. 

2. Six parchment leaves from the sixth century 
with the page numbers 103-106, 111-14, and 135- 
36 in the Egyptological Institute of the University of 
Copenhagen, bought in Cairo at the beginning of 
the 1930s by C. Schmidt and perhaps deriving from 
the Jeremiah monastery at Saqqara; published by 
W. Erich sen, "Aus einem koptischen Arzneibuch," 
in Acta Orientalia 27 (1963):23—45. 

3. Beginning of a parchment codex with magical 
and medical texts of the fifth-sixth centuries in 
Michigan (MS 136), with the page numbers 2-14 
(siglum WM); published by W. H. Worrell, "Coptic 
Magical and Medical Texts," Orientalia n.s. 4 
(1935): 17-37; German trans. in Till, Arzneikunde, 
pp. 132-34. 

4. Remains of a codex with the page numbers 
167 and 168 in the University of Michigan, Ann 
Arbor, inv. no. 593b, probably from the fifth-sixth 
centuries; published by Worrell, "Coptic Magical 
and Medical Texts," Orientalia n.s. 4 (1935): 187-92; 
German trans. in Till, Arzneikunde, p. 134. 

5. Two parchment fragments in the Rvlands Li¬ 
brary, Manchester (siglum Ryl); published by W. E. 
Crum, Catalogue of the Coptic Manuscripts in the 
John Rylands Library, nos. 107 and 108 (p. 59) 



(Manchester, 1909); German trans. in Till, Arznei¬ 
kunde, p. 132. 

6. Leaf of a parchment manuscript in the papyrus 
collection in East Berlin, inv. no. P 8109 (siglum 
BKU); published in Berliner Koplische Urkunden. 
Agyptische Urkunden aus den Koniglichen Muscen 
zu Berlin. Koplische Urkunden l. Band, no. 25 (Ber¬ 
lin, 1904); German trans. in Till, Arzneikunde, 
pp. 112-13. 


1. A papyrus roll of the ninth century, now in the 
French Archaeological Institute in Cairo, found at 
Meshaikh (siglum Ch); published by E. Chassinat, 
Un papyrus medical copte, Memoires Publies par les 
Membrcs dc lTnstitut Frangais d'ArcheoIogic Ori- 
entale 32 (Cairo, 1921); see also A. Deiber, "Lc 
papyrus medical copte de Meschaich,” Revue egypt - 
ologique 14 (1914):! 17-21; German trans. in Till, 
Arzneikunde, pp. 113-29. 

2. Remains of a Coptic papyrus from W&di Sarga 
(siglum WS); published by W. E. Crum and H. I. 
Bell, Wadi Sarga. Coptic and Greek Texts from the 
Excavation Undertaken by the Byzantine Research 
Account (Coptica III), pp. 51-52 (no. 20) (Copenha¬ 
gen, 1922); German trans. in Till, Arzneikunde, p. 

3. Remains of a Coptic papyrus from the antiqui¬ 
ties trade, now in the University of Michigan. Ann 
Arbor, inv. no. 593a (siglum WM); published by 
Worrell, "Coptic Magical and Medical Texts," Ori- 
entalia n.s. 4 (1935): 192-94; German trans. in Till, 
Arzneikunde, p. 134. 

4. Remains of a Coptic papyrus in the John Ry- 
lands Library, no. 109 (siglum Ryl); published by 
W. E. Crum, Catalogue of the Coptic Manuscripts in 
the Collection of the John Rylands Library, p. 59 
(Manchester, 1909); German trans. in Till, 
Arzneikunde, p. 132. 

5. Two papyrus fragments in the Vienna papyrus 
collection, inv. nos. K5504 and K5506 (siglum 
KW); published by Till, "Koplische Rezcpte,” Bulle¬ 
tin de la Society d'archeologie copte 12 (1949):43 — 
49; German trans. in Till, Arzneikunde, pp. 129-30 
(nos. 1-3; the Coptic text of nos. 4-21 is so far 

Ostraca (Seventh Century) 

1. Limestone ostracon in the papyrus collection 
in East Berlin, inv. no. P4984 (siglum BKU 27); 
published in Berliner koplische Urkunden, no. 27 
(Berlin, 1904); German trans. in Till, Arzneikunde, 
p. 113. 

2. Limestone ostracon in the British Museum, 
from the excavation of the Egypt Exploration Socie¬ 
ty in Dayr al-Bahrl (siglum CO 487); published by 
W. E. Crum, Coptic Ostraca from the Collections of 
the Egypt Exploration Fund, the Cairo Museum and 
Others, no. 487 (London, 1902); English trans., p. 
82b; German trans. in Till, Arzneikunde, p. 129. 

3. Limestone ostracon in the East Berlin papyrus 
collection, inv. no. P 880, bought in Thebes in 1859 
(siglum BKU 28); published in Berliner Koplische 
Urkunden, no. 28 (Berlin, 1904); German trans. in 
Till, Arzneikunde, p. 113. 

4. Potsherd in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 
inv. no. 12,180.79, found among the heaps of sherds 
at the monastery of Epiphanius in West Thebes (sig¬ 
lum Ep 574); published by W. E. Crum, The Monas¬ 
tery of Epiphanius at Thebes, Pt. 2, p. 177, no. 574 
(New York 1926); English trans. p. 298; German 
trans. in Till, Arzneikunde, p. 129. 

5. Potsherd in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, 
inv. no. 44674.130, now in the Coptic Museum in 
Cairo, found in the monastery of Epiphanius in 
West Thebes (siglum Ep 574); published by W. E. 
Crum, The Monastery of Epiphanius at Thebes, Pt. 2, 
p. 117, no. 575; English trans., p. 298; German 
trans. in Till, Arzneikunde, p. 129. 

6. Limestone ostracon in the British Museum, 
inv. no. 27422, from Thebes (siglum Hall); pub¬ 
lished by II. R. Hall, Coptic and Greek Texts of the 
Christian Period from Ostraca, Stelae, etc. in the 
British Museum, pp. 64-66, p. 49 (London, 1905); 
German trans. in Till, Arzneikunde, p. 129. 

7. Limestone ostracon in the Institut Frangais 
D'archeologie Orientale in Cairo, inv. no. 13315, 
from the Elias monastery in West Thebes. This is a 
catalog of the library of this monastery, in which a 
"medicine book" is mentioned in line 36 of the 
verso. Of this book only remnants are extant; pub¬ 
lished by R. G. Coquin, "Le catalogue de la biblio- 
theque du Couvent de St. Elie 'du Rocher' 
(Ostrakon IFAO 13315),” Bulletin de lTnstitut fran- 
Vais d'Archeologie orientale 75 (1975):207-239. 


1. Remains of a manuscript in book form in the 
East Berlin papyrus collection, inv. no. P 8116/7 
(siglum BKU 26); published in Berliner Koplische 
Urkunden, no. 26 (Berlin, 1904); German trans. in 
Till, Arzneikunde, p. 113. 

2. Paper strip with medicinal texts (siglum MK); 
published by H. Munier, "Deux recettes m6dicales 
coptes," Annales du Service des antiquites 18 
(1918):284-86; E. Chassinat, "Deux formules phar- 



maceutiqucs copies/' Bulletin de l/nstitut franqais 
d’Archeologie orientate 49 (1949):9—22; German 
trans. in Till, Arzneikunde, p. 130. 

3. Paper manuscript in the John Rylands Library, 
no. 104, sec. 3 (siglum Ryl); published by W. E. 
Crum, Catalogue of the Coptic Manuscripts in the 
John Rylands Library, no. 104,3 (Manchester, 1909); 
German trans. in Till, Arzneikunde, p. 131. 

4. Leaf of a manuscript (siglum Ryl 106); pub¬ 
lished by W. E. Crum, Catalogue of the Coptic Man¬ 
uscripts in the John Rylands Library, no. 106 (Man¬ 
chester, 1909); German trans. in Till, Arzneikunde, 
pp. 131-32. 

5. Paper leaf (siglum TM); published by B. A. 
Turajew, Materialy po archeologii christianskavo 
Egipta, no. 9 (Moscow, 1902); W. Till, "Koptische 
Rezcpte," Bulletin de la Societe d'archeologie copte 
12 (1949):49—54; German trans. in Till, Arznei¬ 
kunde, p. 132. 


During excavation, a graffito with a medicinal 
text was found on the plaster of the walls in each of 
two monasteries: 

1. In Wadi Sarga no. 21 (siglum WS); published 
by W. E. Crum and H. I. Bell, Wadi Sarga, no. 21 
(Copenhagen, 1922); German trans. in Till, Arznei¬ 
kunde, p. 134. 

2. In the Jeremiah monastery at Saqqara on wall 
700 D (siglum Saq); published by H. Thompson, 
"The Coptic Inscriptions," in J. E. Quibell, ed., Ex¬ 
cavations at Saqqara (J907-1908), p. 57, no. 103 
(Cairo, 1909); German trans. in Till, Arzneikunde, p. 

On the content of the Coptic medical papyri, see 

Martin Krause 

PAPYROLOGY, the study of papyri chiefly from 
Egypt. This relatively new discipline is called Greek 
papyrology for the sake of clarity, although it tacitly 
includes the small number of Latin papyri also. The 
texts derive from the period from the second half of 
the fourth century B.c. to about the ninth century 
a d. Because they essentially belong together, texts 
from this period on other writing materials, except 
for inscriptions on stone, fall within the field of 
papyrology. Since the papyri form the largest pan 
of the sources, they have given the name to the 
discipline, although the papyri in other languages 
are excluded because they fall to the province of 

Egyptology or of Oriental studies. Naturally we 
should not think of this delimitation, which has 
grown up in practical work, as rigid. On the con¬ 
trary, the papyrologist who sets out from knowl¬ 
edge of the Greek language must take the history of 
Egypt into consideration and seek the collaboration 
of specialists in contemporary demotic and Coptic 
sources. A small group of Greek and Latin papyri 
and parchments of non-Egyptian origin, particularly 
from Dura-Europos and Palestine, belongs to the 
field of papyrology. On the other hand, the literary 
papyri from Herculaneum have not become the 
concern of papyrology proper. 

Texts are divided according to form and content 
into literary and documentary categories. Composi¬ 
tions in verse and prose as well as the works of the 
special sciences count among the literary texts. To 
the documents are assigned the private letters, ex¬ 
tant in large number, which do not pursue any 
literary aim. One problem is the classification of 
school exercises, although a limited literary interest 
is not lacking in these. Along with the magical texts 
they are assigned to a subliterary area. If a literary 
text is published, it is more a subject for philologi¬ 
cal research. 

The survival of the written evidence in Egypt is 
due to the dry climate, which is favorable to it. The 
great mass of the papyri derives from r ubbish heaps 
in towns, from burial grounds, and from papyrus 
boards, which are separated out to recover the 
texts. For memoranda, receipts, accounts, or infor¬ 
mation, and sometimes also for literary texts, pot¬ 
sherds (ostraca) and limestone splinters were used, 
indeed practically anything smooth and suitable for 
writing. Lead tablets were in the main reserved for 
magical texts. Other writing materials were animal 
skin, leather, parchment, wood and wax tablets, 
and finally paper, which the Arabs introduced into 
the Mediterranean world in the eighth century. 

The earliest find of papyri in Egypt with conse¬ 
quences for scientific research occurred in 1778. 
About 100 years later villager’s found papyri in hith¬ 
erto unsuspected quantity in rubbish heaps, so that 
plans were made for a systematic search. Archaeol¬ 
ogists from different nations began extensive exca¬ 

The importance of the papyri as historical sourc¬ 
es lies in their immediacy. Our knowledge of antiq¬ 
uity is based for the most part on presentations 
founded on the choice and the selective view of 
their authors. Since the papyri embrace the whole 
of cultural life, papyrology furnishes source materi¬ 
al for numerous special disciplines. From the docu- 



merits historians have obtained archival material to 
an extent that was previously available only to me¬ 
dievalists and modern historians. A cultural and 
economic history and a history of law in the Hel¬ 
lenistic and imperial period have become possible 
only through them. The documents have made an 
essential contribution to the expansion of our 
knowledge of the Greek language and of paleogra¬ 
phy, and to the investigation of theology and of the 
history of book production. 

Among the published literary texts the greater 
pan consists of works already known from medi¬ 
eval codices, for which the papyri in some cases 
offer older readings. However, the significance of 
the literary papyri lies in the fact that the number 
of the texts that have become known for the first 
time through them is considerable. So far as the 
extent of the literary tradition is concerned, Homer 
with the Iliad stands first. Then follow Demosthenes 
and Euripides. While the works of many authors 
experienced enlargement, Bacchylides, for exam¬ 
ple, only comes alive for us through the papyri, and 
only they convey to us a comprehensive insight into 
Menander's dramatic art. The Acts of the Alexandri¬ 
an Martyrs shows the aversion of the Greeks against 
imperial despotism and its anti-Semitic attitude. 
Greek professional literature is represented just as 
much as pagan religious or Christian literature. 

The content of the documents provides evidence 
for political, public, and legal relationships, and for 
economic and social conditions. The state authori¬ 
ties are the originators of many documents. Edicts, 
oflicial journals, judicial records, and petitions by 
private persons to officials are numerous; private 
contracts, accounts, and letters have survived in 
great quantity. 

Greek remained the language of commerce even 
after the incorporation of Egypt into the Roman 
empire. Apart from a few high administrative offi¬ 
cials, it was almost only the Roman legionaries who 
spoke Latin. Thus documents from the army, the 
administration, and the law and private letters form 
the bulk of the Latin papyri from Egypt. Among 
literary works, we find texts of classical authors 
(Cicero, Sallust, Livy, Virgil), among juridical texts 
parts of the works of Ulpian and Papinian, the codex 
theodosianus, and the CODEX JUSTINIANIIS. 

After preservative treatment of the material, two 
tasks present themselves to the specialist: the edit¬ 
ing of unpublished texts and the evaluation of those 
already published, according to appointed criteria. 
Here the main concern is to understand the docu¬ 
ments in terms of where they belong, geographical¬ 

ly and factually. Something similar holds for the 
literary field, to make more precise statements, for 
example, about content, manufacture, writing, book 
ornamentation, and chronological questions. 


Aland, K. Repertorium der griechischen christlichen 
Papyri. Berlin and New York, 1976—- 

Barbour, R. Greek Literary Hands A.D. 400-1600. 
Oxford Paleographic Handbooks. Oxford, 1981. 

Bataillc, A. "Lcs Papyrus." In Trade d'etudes byzan- 
tines. Paris, 1955. 

Biedenkopf-Ziehner, A. "Koptologischc Lilera- 
turiibersicht I." Enchoria 2 (1972): 103-136 to 7 
(1977-1979). Enchoria 10(1980): 151-83. 

Bruckner, A., and R. Marichal. Chartae Latinae An- 
tiquiores. Dietikon and Zurich, 1954-. 

Cavallo, G., and H. Maehler. Greek Bookhands of 
the Early Byzantine Period A.D. 300-800. Universi¬ 
ty of London, Institute of Classical Studies, Bulle¬ 
tin Supplement, no. 47. London, 1987. 

Cavenaille, R. Corpus Papyrorum Latinarum. Wies¬ 
baden, 1958. 

Fichman, I. F. Vvcdenic v dokumcntal ’nuiu papir- 
ologiiu. Moscow, 1987 (with French summary), 

Gallo, 1. Avviamento alia papirologia greco-latina. 
Naples, 1983. English trans. Greek and Latin 
Papyrology. Classical Handbook I. London, 1986. 

Haelst, J. van. Catalogue des papyrus litteraires juifs 
et chretiens. Paris, 1976. 

Hunger, H. “Antikes und mittelalterliches Buch- 
und Schriftwesen." In Geschichte der Textuberl- 
ieferung der antiken und miltelalterlichen Litcra- 
tur, Vol. 1. Zurich, 1961. 

Metzger, B. M. Manuscripts of the Greek Bible. New 
York and Oxford, 1981. 

Meyer, P. M. Juristischc Papyri. Berlin, 1920. 

Mitteis, L., and U. Wilcken. Grundzugc und Chresto- 
mathie der Papyruskundc. Leipzig and Berlin, 

Montevccchi, O. La papirologia. Turin, 1973. 

Nagel, P. Bibliographic zur russischen und sowje- 
tischen Koptologie. Arbeitcn aus dcr Universitats- 
und I-andesbibliothek Sachsen, Vol. 23. Halle, 

Oates, J. F.; R. S. Bagnall; W. H. Willis; and K. A. 
Worp. Checklist of Editions of Greek Papyri and 
Ostraca, 3rd cd. Bulletin of the American Society 
of Papyrologists, Supplement no. 4. Durham, 
N.C., 1985. 

Pack, R. A. The Greek and Latin Literary Texts from 
Greco-Roman Egypt, 2nd ed., Ann Arbor, Mich., 

Preisendanz, K. Papyrusfunde und Papyrusfor- 
schung. Leipzig, 1933. 


Schiller, A. A. "A Checklist of Coptic Documents 
and Letters." Bulletin of the American Society of 
Papyrologists 13 (1976): 101 -123. 

Schubart, W. Papyri Graecae Berolinenses. Bonn, 

_ Einflihrung in die Papyruskunde. Berlin, 


__ Das Buch bei den Griechen and Romern, 3rd 

ed., cd. E. Paul. Leipzig, 1961. 

- Griechische Paidographie. Handbuch der Al- 

tertumswissenschaft 1, pt. 4.1. Munich, 1925. 

Seider, R. Paidographie der griechischen Papyri, Vol. 
1. Vrkunden; Vol. 2. Literarische Papyri, Stuttgart. 

1967, 1970. 

- Paidographie der lateinischen Papyri, Vol. 1, 

Vrkunden; Vol. 2, Literarische Papyri, pt. 1, Texte 
klassischer Autoren; pt. 2, Juristische und chrisr- 
liche Texte. Stuttgart. 1972, 1978. 1981. 

Thissen, U.-J. "Demotistische Literaturiibersicht 
1968/9." Enchoria 1 (1971 ):57—71 and following 

Turner, E. G. Greek Papyri: An Introduction. Oxford, 


_ The Typology of the Early Codex. Philadel¬ 
phia, 1977. 

- Greek Manuscripts of the Ancient World. Ox¬ 
ford, 1971; 2nd ed. by P. J. Parsons. University of 
London, Institute of Classical Studies, Bulletin 
Supplement no. 46. London, 1987. 

Wolff, H. J. Das Recht der griechischen Papyri Agyp- 
tens in der Zeit der Ptolemder und des Prinzipats, 
Vol. 2, Organisation und Kontrollc des privaten 
Rechtsverkehrs. Rechtsgeschichte des Altertums 
im Rahmen des llandbuchs der Altertum- 
swissenschaften, Vol. 10, pt. 5.2. Munich. 1978. 

Zauzich, K.-T. "Papyri, Demotische." In Lexikun der 
Agyptologie, Vol. 4, cols. 750-899. Wiesbaden, 


PAPYRUS. See Bookbinding. 

PAPYRUS COLLECTIONS, r The section of 
this entry on the National Library in Vienna was 
written by H. Loebenstein. The introduction and the 
remaining sections were prepared by Marlin Krause.] 
Since the seventeenth century scholars and trav¬ 
elers to Egypt have brought manuscripts to Europe. 
The papyri, whether they came to light in spectacu¬ 
lar finds or as individual discoveries, whether they 
were uncovered in scientific excavations or through 
the diggings of thieves, went into papyrus collec¬ 

tions, either directly or through dealers (see papyrus 
DISCOVERIES). Not only papyrus but also parchment, 
limestone, pottery shards (see ostracon), and other 
materials, such as leather and wood, served as writ¬ 
ing surfaces. 

The sources for the Coptic period arc in Greek, 
Coptic, Arabic, and, to a lesser extent, Latin. They 
are housed in papyrus collections all over the 
world. It is the function of these collections not 
only to restore and preserve the writing materials 
but also to disclose their eontents scientifically. 
While the conservation of papyri has kept pace with 
the new finds—thanks to the techniques developed 
by restorers such as H. Ibscher, R. Ibscher, and A. 
Fackclmann—the seientific disclosure of most pa¬ 
pyrus collections in catalogs and publications is 
still deficient. 

Progress has been greatest on the Greek and Lat¬ 
in papyri because there is a large number of classi¬ 
cal philologists trained in papyrology to work on 
the texts in these languages (for an overview, see 
Mahler, 1965). Not as much headway has been 
made on the Arabic papyri. However, because their 
number is smaller and because of the efforts of A. 
Grohmann, N. Abbot, G. Frantz-Murphy, and others, 
their state of publication is relatively good. The 
least progress has been achieved with the Coptic 
papyri in the collections. The problem in this area 
is twofold: (1) there is only a small number of 
Coptologists with papyrological training; and (2) 
there is a dearth of posts in papyrus collections for 
those Coptologists who are capable of editing papy¬ 
ri. Because Greek papyri are the most numerous, 
the academic staff of most papyrus collections is 
comprised almost exclusively of Greek papyrolo- 
gists. Therefore, even catalogs that merely list the 
Coptic holdings of the papyrus collections are lack¬ 
ing for the most part. Old catalogs, where available, 
are no longer up to dale. The same situation ob¬ 
tains for publications of Coptic papyri. The publica¬ 
tions that appeared prior to the beginning of the 
twentieth century need to be redone. In many cases 
they include only a small portion of a collection’s 
holdings, usually only those pieces best preserved. 
The biggest task, therefore, is to record the Coptic 
holdings of the papyrus collections. The Interna¬ 
tional Association for Coptic Studies has set this 
task for itself. The second priority is to publish the 

The Coptic holdings of the collections are divided 
into literary (see papyri, COPTIC LITERARY) and non¬ 
literary texts. While there is still no list of the pub- 



lished literary texts, A. Schiller (1975) has prepared 
a checklist of the nonliterary pieces. This list, how¬ 
ever, is now in need of supplementation. A prelimi¬ 
nary, incomplete list, arranged according to nation, 
of the collections with Coptic texts, literary and 
nonliterary, follows below. 


Graz, University Library The collection contains 
some Coptic papyri. 

Vienna, Art History Museum The Coptic hold¬ 
ings have been published by H. Satzinger. 

Vienna, National Library In addition to tens of 
thousands of texts in Greek, I-atin, Arabic, Syriac, 
Egyptian, and Hebrew, the library has about 26,000 
Coptic objects, the great majority of which are pa¬ 
pyri. There are also parchments, paper manu¬ 
scripts, textiles, 768 ostraca, and a text inscribed on 
leather. More than 2,300 of the texts have been 
edited. This is a considerable number, given the 
fact that many of the pieces are not worthy of publi¬ 

Most of the papyri come from the Favyum. The 
group from al-Ashmunayn, though smaller in num¬ 
ber, is better preserved and offers a greater per¬ 
centage of literary texts. There arc also some papyri 
from Akhmlm. Most of the parchment texts are 
from Akhmlm, specifically from the White Monas¬ 
tery. Almost all of these texts are literary. The paper 
manuscripts are from al-Ashmunayn. The collection 
has texts in the Akhmimie, Subakhmimic, Bohairic, 
Fayyumic, and Sahidic dialects. The texts in Sahidic 
and Fayyumic arc by far the most numerous. Most 
of the Coptic texts are nonliterary, and approxi¬ 
mately 80 percent of these nonliterary texts are 
letters. There are also accounts, lists, and legal doc¬ 
uments such as tax bills and receipts, ownership 
transfers, delivery contracts, debt documents, lease 
and rent agreements, wills, and work contracts. 
Among the literary texts are numerous biblical frag¬ 
ments on papyrus and parchment, tales of saints 
and martyrs, prayers, liturgical texts—some with an 
Arabic translation—homilies, amulets, magic texts, 
vocabularies, and writing exercises. Espec ially wor¬ 
thy of note are 262 pages fr om a parchment codex 
of the twelve minor prophets in Akhmimie, eight¬ 
een pages of a papyrus codex with a Sahidic Psalter, 
and eight pages, poorly preserved, of the Manichac- 
an book Kephalaia, the major portion of which is in 

After the death of Jakob Krall in 1905, the Coptic 

holdings were largely ignored until Walter Till be¬ 
gan his work on the collection in 1930. During the 
next twenty years Till organized the material in 
generic groups and keyed the objects in the collec¬ 
tion to an inventory list. He produced a catalog of 
the publications and he published a number of the 
pieces himself. 


Louvain, University Library The Coptic manu¬ 
scripts of the University Library were lost to fire in 
World War II. Therefore their publication by L. T. 
Lefort is of irreplaceable value. 


Toronto, Royal Ontario Museum of Archaeolo¬ 
gy The Coptic ostraca from the area of Thebes have 
been published by H. Thompson. 


Prague, Collection of Professor T. Hopfncr The 
earlier papyrus collection of Carl Wessely contains 
among its 8,182 pieces—most of which are Greek 
texts from Soknopaiou Ncsos—56 well-preserved 
Coptic texts and 71 smaller Coptic pieces, as well as 
a number of fragments. 


Alexandria, Graeco-Roman Museum The collec¬ 
tion of the Graeco-Roman Museum contains Coptic 
papyri and ostraca. 

Cairo, Collection of the Society of Coptic Ar¬ 
chaeology The collection contains, in addition to 
papyri from the excavation of the dayk apa PIIOI- 
hammon, a number of Coptic documents, which 
have been published by L. S. B. MacCoulI. Among 
the literary papyri are two codex pages of the 
Sahidic version of Job, another with the only 
known Sahidic translation of Ezekiel 45, and yet 
another with an unusual translation of a portion of 
Psalms. These texts will be published by Randall 

Cairo, Egyptian Museum The Egyptian Museum 
contains one of the largest papyrus collections, and 
in particular one of the largest collections of Greek 
manuscripts and papyri, among which are the Byz¬ 
antine papyri edited by J. MASPERO (bibliography in 
Prciscndanz). Not all of the Coptic papyri were 
transferred to the Coptic museum after its establish¬ 
ment. Some Coptic literary texts and documents 


(e.g., Koptische Rechtsurkunden 75, 93, 89, and 99) 
remained in the Egyptian Museum. 

Cairo, Instltut fran^ais d'Archeologle orientate 
The Institute contains a papyrus collection that in¬ 
cludes important Greek and Coptic texts. The cata¬ 
log of the Coptic manuscripts is the work of R.-G. 
Coquin, who had already published a series of the 
texts of this collection. 

Cairo, Coptic Museum The Coptic Museum, 
founded in 1910 by Murqus Simaykah (Pasha), 
houses a papyrus collection in addition to other 
artifacts. Murqus Simaykah had collected manu¬ 
scripts from old churches and monasteries and had 
described them in a catalog. In the 1940s additional 
papyri, manuscripts, and ostraca, which W. E. 
Crum and H. Munier had described, were trans¬ 
ferred to the Coptic Museum from the Egyptian 
Museum. In addition, the codices of gnostic writ¬ 
ings found near Nag Hammadi, which an interna¬ 
tional committee published in facsimile volumes, 
came to the museum. The holdings continue to 
grow as a result of new excavation finds, such as 
the papyri unearthed at Oasr Ibrlm and Nakhlah. 

Cairo, Coptic Patriarchate In addilion to Christ- 
ian-Arabic manuscripts, the library of the Coptic 
patriarchate has a number of Coptic-Arabic manu¬ 
scripts, only a portion of which have been listed in 

Coptic Churches and Monasteries In Egypt The 
Coptic, Copto-Arabic, and Christian-Arabic manu¬ 
scripts housed in Coptic churches and monasteries 
have only recently begun to be listed in catalogs. 
This work must be furthered. Worthy of mention 
are the catalogs being prepared by the Soci6t£ d'ar- 
chtfologie copte in Cairo, four of which have ap¬ 
peared since 1967, as well as the catalogs of the 
monasteries of Saint Antony (dayr anhA antOniyus) 
and Saint Paul (dayr anbA bOlA) being prepared by 
R.-G. Coquin and the catalog of the Monastery of 
Saint Macarius (DAYR ANBA maqAr). 

Sinai, St. Catherine's Monastery In addition to 
the famous codex sinaiticus, which was discovered 
by K. von tischendorf and made its way via Russia 
to the British Museum in London, the monastery 
library possesses other valuable manuscripts, which 
are listed in catalogs. Additional manuscripts were 
discovered in the monastery in 1975. 


Paris, National Library The manuscripts that 
J. M. Vansleb purchased in Egypt for the French 

Royal Library constitute the foundation of the Cop¬ 
tic holdings of the National Library. After the royal 
library became the National Library, an additional 
1,883 fragments of manuscripts from the library of 
the White Monastery (dayr anbA shinGdah) in Suhaj 
were acquired. Other fragments of these manu¬ 
scripts have come to the library from Cairo, Leiden, 
and London. The manuscripts (i.e., the manuscript 
fragments) run the gamut of Coptic literature: Old 
Testament, New Testament, lives of monks, coun¬ 
cils and church history, acts of martyrs, apocrypha, 
liturgical manuscripts, large katameros, Shenute, 
homilies, miscellaneous, unidentified fragments, 
and medicine and astronomy. 

Chabot’s short summary of the library’s holdings 
was followed by the detailed but incomplete sum¬ 
maries of J. Delaportc and E. Porcher. The most 
extensive catalog of the Sahidic manuscripts, which 
lists the publications of the texts, was prepared by 
E. Lucchesi. 

Paris, Louvre Museum Among the nonliterary 
texts the dialysis document from Djeme (E.5134) 
and the correspondence of Bishop PISENTIUS OF COP- 
TOS are worthy of mention. The publications of E. 
Revillout need to be redone. W. E. Crum published 
some of the documents in 1912 (KRU 40 and 43) 
and others in 1921. 

Strasbourg, University Library Among the copi¬ 
ous holdings are some Coptic and Coptic-Arabic 

Germany, Federal Republic of 

Berlin, State Library The manuscript collection 
contains eighty-four Coptic manuscripts. 

Berlin, Egyptian Museum The Egyptian Museum 
has 2 papyrus, 1 parchment, and 2 paper manu¬ 
scripts, 220 papyri, innumerable unidentified frag¬ 
ments, and 2 ostraca. 

Cologne, Papyrus collection at Institute for An¬ 
tiquity, University dcr Rhclnlsch-Wcstttilischen 
Akademie of Cologne The collection has about 
100 Coptic papyri. 

Cologne, Department of Egyptology, University 
of Cologne The department houses Coptic papyri. 

Freiburg im Brelsgau, University Library The 

collection contains twenty-five Coptic papyri (some 
very small) and two Coptic manuscripts: Manu¬ 
script 615 (fragment of a Greek-Sahidic text of the 
Gospels, which is from Manuscript M615 of the 
Pierpont Morgan Library, New York) and Manu¬ 
script 699 (from Manuscript M587 of the Pierpont 
Morgan Library, New York). 



Giessen, University Library The collection con¬ 
tains about seventy-five Coptic papyri. 

Gottingen, State and University Library of 
Lower Saxony In 1877, the Gottingen University 
Library acquired thirty-four Coptic manuscripts 
from H. Brugsch. These texts have been described 
by F. WUstenfeld and P. de Lagarde. 

Hamburg, State and University Library The col¬ 
lection contains ten Coptic papyri and one Coptic- 
Grcck bilingual papyrus of the Old Testament (see 

Heidelberg, University Library The collection 
contains three Coptic manuscripts: Cod. Heid. Or. 
63, 97, and 113. 

Heidelberg, Institute for Papyrology The Insti¬ 
tute has 390 Coptic papyri, 51 parchment manu¬ 
scripts, 68 paper manuscripts, and 33 ostraca. 

Munich, Bavarian State Library The collection 
contains Coptic and Greek papyri as well as twenty- 
two Coptic and Greek-Arabic papyri. 

Wtirzburg, University Library The collection has 
three Coptic papyri. 

German Democratic Republic 

Berlin, State Museums of Berlin The holdings 
of the papyrus collection, built up over a period of 
more than 150 years, exceed 20,000 in number, of 
which about 2,500 are Coptic texts. Of these Coptic 
pieces about 681 arc papyri, 153 are parchment. 69 
are paper, and 1,549 are ostraca. As part of a re¬ 
search effort of the Oriental and Ancient Studies 
Section of Martin Luther University in Halle- 
Wittenberg, W. Beltz has divided the Coptic texts 
into the following eleven groups: (a) letters; (b) 
documents, contracts, lists, accounts; (c) natural 
science and medicine; (d) magic texts; (e) literary 
texts; (f) biblical texts; (g) homiletic texts; (h) apoc- 
rypha; (j) Gnostic texts; (k) school exercises and 
analecta. Among the best-known texts are the Gnos¬ 
tic manuscript P. 8502, which contains texts paral¬ 
lel to those in the Nag Hammadi Library, and the 
papyrus (P. 15, 926) of the Acts of the Apostles. At 
the beginning of the twentieth century, A. Erman, J. 
Leipoldt, and others started to publish the Coptic 
documents. After a fifty-year interlude, F. Hintze 
has taken up the task of publishing these docu¬ 

Berlin, German State Library As a result of the 
division of the holdings for protective storage dur¬ 
ing World War II, some of the Coptic manuscripts 
and papyri from this collection are still in West 

Berlin at the State Library of Prussian Art. Among 
the Coptic texts in East Berlin is an important Ak- 
hmimic manuscript of Proverbs (MS Or. 987). 

Jena, Friedrich Schiller University The collec¬ 
tion contains a number of Coptic papyri and os¬ 

Leipzig, Library of Karl Marx University The 

collection contains Coptic papyri and ostraca, in¬ 
cluding Bohairic manuscripts and manuscript frag¬ 
ments from Wadi al-Natrun. The fragments, which 
were brought to Leipzig by K. von Tischendorf, 
belong to manuscripts now preserved in the Vati¬ 
can Library and in the Coptic Museum, Cairo. 

Great Britain 

Cambridge, Cambridge University, Gonvllle 
and Calus College The college houses fragments of 
Bohairic Coptic liturgical manuscripts. 

Cheltenham, Philipps Library Among the hold¬ 
ings is a sixth- or seventh-century papyrus codex 
published by W. E. Crum. 

London, British Library The British Museum 
houses one of the largest and most important col¬ 
lections of papyri and Coptic texts. Inasmuch as 
W. E. Crum's catalog edits and describes only those 
texts acquired prior to the turn of the century and 
B. Layton's catalog is limited to literary texts, there 
is need for a new, comprehensive catalog of the 
documents. In addition to the documents from Dj- 
eme published by Crum, there are large holdings 
from Hermopolis that have not yet been published. 

London, British Museum, Egyptian Depart¬ 
ment Among the many texts housed in the Egyptian 
department of the British Museum is a large collec¬ 
tion of Coptic ostraca from the excavations of the 
Egypt Exploration Society. W. E. Crum has pub¬ 
lished the majority of the texts from the area of 
Thebes (Djeme), but many of these texts, especially 
those in Coptic Ostraca, must be edited anew. 

London, University College The collection con¬ 
tains, among other texts, some Coptic ostraca, most 
of which have been published by W. E. Crum. 

Manchester, John Rylands Library The texts 
purchased by the earl of Crowford in 1901 form the 
basis of the collection. Other purchases, such as 
those of H. Tattam, R. Licder, and J. Lee, as well as 
those made from dealers in Giza, have enhanced 
the holdings. Some of the Sahidic texts come from 
the White Monastery (DAYR ANBA SHIN0DAH). Many 
of the Bohairic texts on parchment and paper are 
from the monasteries of Nitria. The collection, 467 


pieces in all, encompasses biblical manuscripts, Iec- 
tionaries, liturgical texts, homilies, acts of martyrs, 
lives of saints, magic and medical texts, grammars, 
scales, letters, and a large number of documents. 
The holdings have been well cataloged by W. E. 
Crum and W. C. Till. 

Oxford, Bodleian Library The first Coptic texts 
acquired by the Bodleian Library were purchased 
by Huntington. Later, pages of manuscripts from 
the White Monastery, purchased by C. G. Woide, 
were added to the collection. Among the significant 
nonliterary texts are the sales documents (MS Copt, 
e, 8P) published by W. E. Crum in 1912, the ostraca 
and papyri published by Crum in 1921 and 1939, 
and the documents from Bala'izah published by 
P. E. Kahle. 


Dublin, Chester Beatty Library This collection, 
which next to the BODMER papyri is the largest and 
most important private collection with Greek bibli¬ 
cal texts (see Chester beatty biblicai. papyri), also 
contains significant Coptic texts (see Chester beatty 
COPTIC papyri). Among these Coptic texts are the 
Manichaean papyri, which were discovered in 1930 
and divided between Dublin and Berlin. The publi¬ 
cation of these texts has been taken up anew by S. 
Giversen and others after an interruption of several 

Among the Old Testament texts the Joshua manu¬ 
script is worthy of mention. The second part of this 
text is in the Bodmer collection (P. Bodmer XXI). 
In 1984, H. Ouecke noted in his edition of the 
Gospel of John the variant readings of manuscripts 
813 and 814, which contain the gospel. Manuscript 
815, which contains the beginning of the Gospel of 
Matthew as well as Psalms, has not yet been pub¬ 
lished. Also unpublished are twelve pages of a Sub- 
akhmimic manuscript of the Gospel of John. An 
unpublished parchment manuscript in fragmentary 
condition contains various patristic works. Other 
important texts include a Greek manuscript of the 
letters of Pachomius and a Coptic parchment and 
papyrus rolls with the letters of Pachomius, 
Theodorus, and llorsiesios. Ouecke has edited the 
Greek and Coptic letters of Pachomius. T. Orlandi 
is preparing an edition of the letters of Theodorus 
and Horsiesios. 


Many of the Coptic manuscripts in various Italian 
collections are listed by G. Gabrieli in an appendix. 

Florence, Papyrus Institute of the University 
and Bihlloteca Medicea Laurcnliana These collec¬ 
tions have a number of Coptic pieces among their 
rich papyrological holdings. In 1984, G. M. Browne 
edited portions of a collection of documents and 
letters purchased by G. Vitelli in 1904. 

Naples, National Library The Coptic manu¬ 
scripts in the collection of Cardinal Borgia (de¬ 
scribed in Zoega’s catalog) were divided into two 
parts after his death in 1804. One eventually was 
acquired by the Vatican Library in 1902. The other 
went to the Bibliotheca Reale Borbonica, now 
known as the Naples National Library. We are in¬ 
debted to J.-M. Sauget for an important catalog that 
gives the current location of the manuscripts as 
well as a bibliography extending to the 1970s. 

Pisa, National Museum The National Museum 
collection contains, among other things, fragments 
of a Copto-Arabic manuscript, which has been pub¬ 
lished by S. Pernigotti and D. Amaldi. 

Turin, Egyptian Museum, Papyrus Collection 
The papyrus collection contains fragments of seven¬ 
teen papyrus codices in a good state of preservation 
and some individual manuscript pages. These texts 
were acquired by the museum in 1820 along with 
other antiquities that B. Drovetti had purchased. F. 
Rossi has published the majority of the texts, but 
these works must be edited anew. The codices con¬ 
tain primarily apocryphal texts, acts of martyrs, 
lives of saints, and homilies, but they also preserve 
the Canons of Basil and fragments of the book of 
Job (for a detailed list, see Orlandi, 1974, pp. 120- 

Turin, University Library A fire destroyed the 
Coptic manuscripts and papyri in this collection on 
25-26 January 1904. 

Vatican City, Vatican Library The Coptic manu¬ 
scripts were purchased from Pietro della Valle and 
the Assemani, who had traveled and acquired antiq¬ 
uities in Egypt. A portion of the collection of the 
Assemani came directly to the Vatican Library. The 
other part went to the private library of Cardinal 
Borgia, who in large part had financed the Asse- 
mani's journeys. In 1805, one year after the death 
of Cardinal Borgia, his Coptic manuscripts were 
divided between the Collegium de Propaganda Fide 
and the Bibliotheca Reale Borbonica (today the Na¬ 
tional Library) in Naples. After Cardinal Ciasca's 
death in 1902, the manuscripts in the Collegium de 
Propaganda Fide were transferred lo the Vatican 
Library. The manuscripts of the Old and New Testa¬ 
ments; of the apocrypha; of patristic, hagiographic, 
and liturgical texts; as well as those of grammars 



and scales have been described in the detailed cata¬ 
logs of A. Hebbelynck and A. van Lantschoot. The 
library also has a collection of nonliterary papyri, 
which were acquired from J. Dorcssc in 1961. 

Venice, National Marcan Library This library 
houses Sahidic manuscripts that had passed 
through the hands of various dealers. Some of the 
texts are from the White Monastery' (Dayr Anba Shi- 
nudah). A. Mingarelli has cataloged the collection. 

The Netherlands 

Leiden, National Antiquities Museum An im¬ 
pressive collection of Coptic literary and nonlite¬ 
rary papyri and ostraca is preserved in this muse¬ 
um. In addition to the catalog of W. Pleyte and 
P. A. A. Boeser, the publication by M. Green of a 
private archive dated to the eleventh century from 
the region of Hermonthis, which also contains an 
Arabic letter, is worthy of mention. 

Soviet Union 

Leningrad, Hermitage The Coptic papyri and 
ostraca of this collection have been reediled by 
P. V. Jernstedt. 

Moscow, Pushkin Museum The Coptic papyri 
and ostraca of this collection have been reedited by 
P. V. Jernstedt. 


Barcelona, Palau-Ribes Collection Through its 
purchase of early Coptic manuscripts ol the New 
Testament (Gospels of Mark, Luke, and John), 
which have been published by II. Ouecke, this col¬ 
lection, which also contains other Coptic papyri 
and ostraca, has moved into the ranks of important 
Coptic manuscript collections. 


Geneva, Bodmer Collection See the separate en¬ 
try on BODMER PAPYRI in the Appendix. 

United States 

Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Library Af¬ 
ter B. P. Grenfell and F. W. Kelsey bought the first 
papyri for this collection in 1920, W. II. Worrell 
purchased in the following years (until 1935) oilier 
pieces, among which were a number of well- 
preserved documents and letters. The Coptic eollec¬ 
tion, which consists almost entirely of pieces 
bought from antiquities dealers, had in 1942 about 
750 pieces cataloged under 460 inventory numbers. 

In addition to 150 literary texts (not including some 
200 fragments), there are 400 documents and let- 
lei’s. Among the literary texts are manuscripts of the 
Old and New Testaments in several dialects, apoc¬ 
ryphal writings, liturgical works, homilies, and ac¬ 
counts of martyrs. The documents come in part 
from llermopolis, Thebes, and the FayyOm. A por¬ 
tion of the collection has been published. 

Durham, Duke University Collection L. S. B. 
MacCoull has published three Coptic papyri from 
the holdings of Duke University. 

New Haven, Yale University, Belnccke Library 
Among the holdings of the Beinecke Library are 
Coptic documents and letters. A. E. Samuel has 
described these texts, and L. S. B. MacCoull has 
published many of the documents. 

New York, Brooklyn Museum, Department of 
Egyptian and Classical Art Since 1937 the collec¬ 
tion of the New-York Historical Society has been in 
the Brooklyn Museum. Among the papyrus holdings 
are thirty-six Coptic ostraca, three inscribed wood 
tablets, one parchment, and twenty-two papyri. 
With the exception of nine texts (W. M. MUller and 
A. A. Schiller) the holdings are unpublished. 

New York, Columbia University The collection 
(Schiller, 1959, pp. 21-23) was significantly en¬ 
larged in 1959-1960 by the purchase of some 3,500 
Coptic ostraca from the Metropolitan Museum. 
Most of these ostraca, which are mainly from the 
Metropolitan Museum's excavations in the region of 
Djeme, are unpublished. 

New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art The 

Metropolitan Museum's large collection of Coptic 
papyri and ostraca was reduced by the sale of ap¬ 
proximately 3,500 ostraca to Columbia University. 
Worthy of mention are the Coptic ostraca and papy¬ 
rus documents from the area of Djeme that have 
been published by W. E. Crum and A. A. Schiller. 

New York, Pierpont Morgan Library The acqui¬ 
sition of the manuscripts of a monastery' library in 
the Fayyum has made the Pierpont Morgan Library 
the holder of one of the most important collections 
of Coptic manuscripts. These texts have been made 
accessible through facsimile editions. Many of them 
have also been edited and published. In addition to 
these manuscripts, the collection contains Coptic 
documents that were purchased in 1920 from the 
dealer M. Nahman in Cairo. In 1982 L. S. B. Mac¬ 
Coull published some 147 of these documents. 

Washington, D.C., Freer Collection The Freer 
Collection contains a number of early Greek and 
Coptic manuscripts of Old and New Testament 
books. H. A. Sander’s and W. H. Worrell have pub- 


lishcd these texts (bibliography in Preisendanz). The 
nonliterary texts (Greek and Coptic) were published 
in 1973 by L. S. B. MacCoull. 

Washington, D.C., Library of the Institute of 
Christian Oriental Research The Institute of Chris¬ 
tian Oriental Research, which was founded by 
H. Hyvernat, houses a number of Coptic papyri. 
L. S. B. MacCoull has published fifty-seven fragments 
of these texts dating for the most part from the 
sixth or seventh century. 


Aland, K. Kurzgefasste Listc der gtiechischen Hand- 
schrifieri des Neuen Testaments, Vol. 1, p. 294. 
Berlin, 1963-. 

Beltz, W. "Katalog der koptischen Handschriften 
der Papyrus-Sammlung der Staatlichen Museen 
z.u Berlin." Archiv flir Papyrusforschung 26 
(1978):57-117; 27 < 1980): 121-222. 

Bohlig, A. Dcr achmimische Proverbientext nach Ms. 
Bcrol. orient, oct. 987. Studien zur Erforschung 
des christlichen Agyptcns 3. Munich, 1958. 

Browne, G. M. Papiri Laurenziana copti (P. Laur. V). 
Florence, 1984. 

Cliabot, J. B. "Inventaire des manuscrits coptes de 
la Bibliotheque nationale." Revue des biblio- 
theques 16 (1906):351 -67. 

Coquin, R.-G. "Un complement aux vies sahidiques 
de Pachome: Le manuscrit IFAO. Copte 3." Bulle¬ 
tin de Vlnstitut franca is d'archcologic orientale 79 

-- "Le funds copte de ITnstiUit fran^ais d'ar- 

cheologie orientale du Caire." in Ecrilures el tra¬ 
ditions dans la literature Copte, pp. 9-18. Cahiers 
de la Bibliotheque copte 1. Louvain, 1983. 

-"Les Lettres festales d'Athanase (CPG 2102). 

Un nouveaux complement: Le manuscrit IFAO, 
Copte 25." Orientalia Lovaniensia periodica 15 
(1984): 133—58. 

Crum, W. E. Coptic Ostraca. Ixmdon, 1902. 

- Coptic Monuments in the Cairo Museum. 

Cairo, 1902. Nos. 8728-41 are manuscripts. 

- Catalogue of Coptic Manuscripts in the Brit¬ 
ish Museum. London, 1905. 

- Catalogue of Coptic Manuscripts in the John 

Rylands Library. Manchester, 1909. 

-- Koptische Rechtsurkunden des achten Jahr- 

hunderts aus Djeme (Theben). Leipzig, 1912. 

-"New Coptic Manuscripts in the John Ry¬ 
lands Library.” Bulletin of the John Rylands Li¬ 
brary 5 (1919-1920):497-503. 

- Short Texts from Coptic Ostraca and Papyri. 

Oxford, 1921. 

- Varia Coptica. Aberdeen, 1939. 

Delaportc, L. J. "Catalogue sommaire des manu¬ 
scrits coptes de la Bibliotheque nationale." Revue 
de VOrient chretien 2, ser. 4 (1909):417-23; 5 
(1910):85-96, 133-56, 392-97; 6 (1911):85-99, 
155-60, 239-48, 368-95; 7 (1912):390-94; 8 
(1913):84—91 # 390-95. 

Dev6ria, T. Catalogue des manuscrits egyptiens 
ecrits sur papyrus, toile, tablettes et ostraca en 
caracteres hUroglyphiques, hieratiques, demot- 
iques, grecs, coptes, arabes et latins qui sont 
consents au Musee egyptien du Louvre. Paris, 

Gabrieli, G. Manoscritti e carte orientali nelle bibli- 
oteche e negli archivi d’Italia. Biblioteca di Biblio- 
grafia Italiana 10. Florence, 1930. 

Greek Papyri in the British Museum, Vol. 4, The 
Aphrodito Papyri, ed. H. I. Bell, with an appendix 
of Coptic papyri, ed. W. E. Crum. London, 1910. 

Green, M. "A Private Archive of Coptic letters and 
Documents from Teshlot." Oudheidkundige tned- 
edcclingen uit het Rijksmuseum van Oudheden te 
Leiden 64 (1983):61 -122. 

Grohmann, A. Einfiihrung und Chrestomathie zur 
urabischen Papyruskunde, pp. 36-62. Prague, 

Haase, F. A. J. Christlich-orientalische Handschrif- 
ten-kataloge. Freiburg im Breisgau, 1920. 

I leer, H. M. "Ncuc griechisch-saYdische Evangelien- 
fragmentc.” Oricns Christianus n.s. 3 (1912):!-47 
(with two plates) and 3 (1913): 14If. 

Hebbelynck, A. Inventaire sommaire des manuscrits 
coptes de la Bibliotheque vaticanc. Rome, 1924, 
pp. 35-82. 

Hebbelynck, A., and A. van Lantschoot. Codices 
coptici vaticani Barberiniani Borgiani Rossiani, 
Vol. 1, Codices coptici Vaticani. Vatican City, 

Hintze, F. "Ein kiptisches Glossar jiidischer Monats- 
narnen." Mitteilungen des Instituts fiir Orientfor- 
schung 3 (1955): 149-52. 

Hyvernat, H. A Checklist of Coptic Manuscripts in 
the Pierpont Morgan Library. New York, 1919. 

Jernstedt, P. V., ed. Koptskije teksty Gosudarstven- 
nogo Ermitagea. Moscow and Leningrad, 1959. 

Jernstedt, P. V., ed. Koptskije teksty Gosudarstven- 
nogo muzeya isobrazitelnykh iskusstvimeni A. S. 
Pushkina. Moscow and Leningrad, 1959. 

Kahle, P. E. Bala’izah. Coptic Texts from Deir el- 
Balaizah in Upper Egypt, 2 vols. Oxford and Lon¬ 
don, 1954. 

Karabacek, J. Der Papyrusfund von El-Faijum. Vien¬ 
na, 1882. 

Khater, A., and O. H. E. Burmester. Catalogue of 
the Coptic and Christian Arabic MSS. Prcser\>ed in 
the Cloister of Saint Menas at Cairo. Cairo, 1967. 

- Catalogue of the Coptic and Christian Arabic 

MSS. Preserved in the Library of the Church of the 


All-Holy Virgin Mary Known as Qasriat ar-Rihan 
at Old Cairo. Cairo, 1973. 

- Catalogue of the Coptic and Christian Arabic 

MSS Preserved in the Library of the Church of 
Saints Sergius and Bacchus Known as Abu Sar- 
gah at Old Cairo. Cairo, 1977. 

Krall, J. "Aus einer koplischen Klosterbibliothck I." 
Mittheilungen aus der Samntlung der Papyrus Erz- 
Herzog Rainer 1 (1887):62-72. 

_"Aus einer koptischcn Kloslerbibliothek II." 

Mittheilungen aus der Sannnlung der Papyrus Erz- 
Herzog Rainer 2-3 (1887):43-73. 

Kropp, A., ed. Oratio Mariae ad Bartos. Ein kop- 
tischer Gebetstext aus den giessener Papyrussam • 
mlungen. Berichte und Arbeiten aus der Universi- 
tiitsbibliothek Giessen 7. Giessen, 1965. 

Lagarde, P. do. "Die koplischen Handsehrifien der 
goettinger Bibliothek." In Orientalia, pp. 3-62. 
OsnabrUck, 1973. Reprint of Gottingen, 1879. 

Laylon, B. Catalogue of Coptic Literary Manuscripts 
in the British Library Acquired Since the Year 
1906. London, 1987. 

Lcfort, L. T. Les manuscrils copies de I'Universite de 
Louvain. Louvain, 1940, 

Lucchesi, E. Repertoire des manuscrils copies (sah- 
idiques) publics de la Bibliotheque nationale de 
Paris. Cahiers d’orientalisme 1. Geneva, 1981. 

MacCoull, L. S. B. "Coptic Documentary Papyri in 
the Collection of the Society of Coptic Archaeolo¬ 
gy, Cairo." In Atti del XVII Congresso internazion- 
ale de papirologia, Vol. 2, pp. 777-85. Naples, 

Macomber, W. F. Catalogue of the Christian Arabic 
Manuscripts of the Franciscan Center of Christian 
Oriental Studies, Muski. Cairo, 1984. Contains, 
among other items, seventeen Coptic manuscripts 
and sixty Arabic-Coptic manuscripts. 

Miihler, H. "Sammlungen griechischer Papyri." In 
Lexikon der alien Welt, cols. 3389-3402. Zurich 
and Stuttgart, 1965. 

Milne, H. J. M. Catalogue of the Literary • Papyri in 
the British Museum. London, 1927. 

Mingarelii, A. Aegyptiorum codicum reliquiae in bib¬ 
liotheca Naniana asser\>atae. Bologna, 1785. 

Munier, H. Manuscrils copies. Cairo, 1916. 

Orlandi, T. Koptische Papyri theologischen Inhalts. 
Mitteilungen aus der Papyrussammlung der 
Ostcrrcichischen Nationalbibliothek, n.s. 9. Vien¬ 
na, 1974. 

-"Les Papyrus coptes du Mus6e egyptien de 

Turin." Le Museon 87 (1974):115-27. 

_"Les manuscrits de Dublin, du British Muse¬ 
um et de Vienne." Le Museon 89 (1976):323—38. 

Pernigotti, S., and D. Amaldi. Pagine di un codice 
copto-arabo nel Museo nazionale di S. Matteo a 
Pisa. Egitto e Vicino Orientc, Studi c Ricerche 3. 
Pisa, 1982. 

Pleyte, W., and P. A. A. Boeser. Manuscrits coptes 
du Musee d'antiquites des Pays-Bas a Leide. Lei¬ 
den. 1897. 

Porcher, E. "Analyse des manuscrits coptes 131 1-8 
de la Bibliotheque nationale avec indications des 
textes bibliques." Revue d'Egyptologie 1 (1933): 

Preisendanz, K. Papyrusfunde und Papyrusfor- 
sc hung. Leipzig, 1933. 

Quecke, H. Die Briefe Pachoms. Griechischer Text 
der Handschrift W. 145 der Chester Beatty Library. 
Regensburg, 1975. 

Revillout, E. Actes et contrats des musics egyptiens 
de Boulaq et du Louvre. Paris, 1876. 

__ "Huit papyrus coptes du Mus6e egyptien du 

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entalists. Paris 1873. Compte-rendu, Vol. 2, pp. 
471-524, and Vol. 3, pp. 55-68. 

__ "Textes coptes extraits de la correspon¬ 
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plusieurs documents analogues (juridiques et 
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133-77; 10 (1902):34-47. 

Samuel, A. E. "The Beinecke Papyri (of Yale Uni¬ 
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Satzinger, H. "Koptische Papyrus-Fragmente des 
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Sauget, J.-M. "Introduction historique et notes bib- 
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Schiller, A. A. "Coptic Ostraca." Columbia Library 
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8 (1959):21 —23. 

_"The Budge Papyrus of Columbia Universi¬ 
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Stork, L. Koptische Handsehrifien, 'Veil 3: Die Hand- 
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Till, W. Koptische Pergamente theologischen Inhalts 
I. Mitteilungen aus der Papyrussammlung der 
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_"Die Coptica der Wiener Papyrussammlung. 

Sachliche Obersicht. Verzeichnis der verofTent- 
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landischen Gesellschaft 95 (1941): 165—218. 

-"Coptic Biblical Fragments in the John Ry- 


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brary 34 (1952):432-58. 

_ Die koptischen Rechtsurkunden der Papyrus- 

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Wadi Sarga, Coptic and Greek Texts front the Exca¬ 
vations Undertaken by the Byzantine Research Ac¬ 
count, ed. W. E. Crum and H. I. Bell. Coplica 3. 
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Williams, R. J., ed. "The Giessen Coptic Texts." 
Kurzberichte a us den Giessener Papyrussamm- 
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Series 10. New York and London, 1923. 

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Collection. Ann Arbor, Mich., 1942. 

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der kdniglichen Universitatsbibliothek." Nach- 
richten der kdniglichen Gesellschaft und der 
Georg-Augustus IJniversitat ztt Gottingen (1878): 

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Martin Krause 

PAPYRUS DISCOVERIES. The dry climate of 
Egypt is responsible for ihe preservation of the 
many literary memorials of the countiy, the ostraca 
as well as the sources written on papyrus, parch¬ 
ment, and (later) paper, which may be subdivided 
into literary and nonlitcrary. They were and are 
found either by chance, mostly by fcllahin digging 
for manure in the remains of old settlements, but 
also through systematic licensed excavations by ar¬ 
chaeologists since the end of the nineteenth centu¬ 
ry. An example of such scientific excavations for 
papyri is those of oxyrhynchus. which were under¬ 
taken between 1896 and 1907 by the Englishmen 
Grenfell and Hunt, and thereafter bv the Italians 
Pistelli (1910. 1913-1914) and Brecchia (1927- 
1928). The publication of the rich finds of papyrus 
is not yet complete. 

Chance discoveries made by local inhabitants 
greatly outnumber papyrus discoveries made by sci¬ 
entific excavators. Dealers who have sold papyri to 
libraries and museums have related stories about 
the circumstances surrounding their discoveries 

that have led scholars to discern the following pat¬ 
tern. The fellahin sold their finds to dealers in the 
neighborhood. From there the papyri came to deal¬ 
ers in Cairo who had connections with the interna¬ 
tional antiquities trade. Because of the risk, the 
dealers often divided large finds into several lots. 
Scholars are interested in the circumstances ol a 
discovery, since these may be of importance lor a 
number of reasons. The place of discovery (tomb, 
hiding place, or building) shows whether the papy¬ 
rus was the property of an individual, who in ac¬ 
cordance with a custom that can be traced back to 
early Egyptian times, had Holy Scriptures laid be¬ 
side him in the grave (in earlier ages it was books 
of the dead). Thus, for example, the Apocalypse of 
Peter is said to have been found along with the 
Gospel of Peter and the Greek Book of Enoch at 
Akhmlin in the grave of a monk (Hennecke and 
Schneemelcher, 1964, p. 468). In a scientific exca¬ 
vation at the Coptic cemetery of al-Mudill, about 28 
miles (45 km) from al-Bahnasa, a Coptic Psalter in 
the dialect of Oxyrhynchus was found in a grave 
under the head of a twelve-year-old girl (Gabra, 
1986). Discovery in a hiding place at a spot of diffi¬ 
cult access shows that some danger threatened the 
manuscripts, which had to be brought to a place of 
safety. This danger may have come from external or 
internal enemies, from hostile troops, from the 
stale (when Christianity was not yet recognized as a 
religio licita), or, in the case of a library containing 
writings that did not conform to the doctrinal views 
of the church, from the state church. Papyri discov¬ 
ered in the ruins of a building may have belonged 
to the library of a community that was not endan¬ 
gered. It must be made clear how large the library 
was, and whether it was divided. The place of dis¬ 
covery of Coptic manuscripts is of further impor¬ 
tance for the localizing of Coptic dialects. 

The interests of the finders and dealers are at 
variance with those of the scholars. The former 
have to reckon with penalties for failure to report 
the discovery, and with subsequent excavation by 
archaeologists, which would mean the loss of their 
"gold mine." Hence caution is advisable with re¬ 
gard to their statements, not so much about the 
time of the discovery as about its precise location. 
Their information must be checked, preferably by 
an excavation at the site named. If an excavation is 
not possible, as happens in most cases, the state¬ 
ments of the manuscripts themselves must be set 
against those of the finders regarding the place of 
discovery. Among these statements in Coptic manu¬ 
scripts are, for one thing, the dialect. It allows an 


approximate localization by indicating the part of 
the country in which the dialect was spoken. In the 
case of manuscripts with covers, one must investi¬ 
gate whether old papyri, especially documents, 
were pasted into the binding. They often name per¬ 
sons and places that may have been connected with 
the codex. The checking of the information from 
the finders is simpler with later manuscripts, which 
contain a colophon with information about the 
scribe and the place of writing. 

Let us now deal with the most important discov¬ 
eries, first of Greek, then of Coptic manuscripts. 
The place of discovery of the great find at Turah is 
certain, since it was found in August 1941 in the 
caves under the monastery of Arsenius, by Egyptian 
workers who were clearing rubbish from a cave. 
The majority of the manuscripts were put in a place 
of safety after the discovery and brought to the 
Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The pages that were not 
handed over by the workers, but came to the antiq¬ 
uities dealers, are today scattered over several 
countries and several collections (Australia. South 
Africa, Switzerland, France, England, Germany, and 
the United States; of. Mackay and Griggs, 1985). 
Found were writings of origen and didymms the 
blind, in Greek, extending to eight codices and at 
least 2,016 papyrus pages (Koencn and Muller- 
Wiener, 1968; Koenen and Doutreleau, 1967). The 
copying is dated to the sixth century. 

On the other hand, the place of discovery of the 
Cologne Mani Codex with a biography of Mani in 
Greek is not certain. It was written on parchment 
in the fifth century in pocket-size format (1.67 inch¬ 
es [4.25 cm] high, 1.25 inches [3.5 cm] wide) and is 
so far the smallest known codex. From information 
given by the dealer, its place of origin had been 
assumed to be a grave in Oxyrhynchus, but further 
investigation by the editors proved that this state¬ 
ment was false. Rather, the codex had been for 
many years (supposedly fifty years) in the posses¬ 
sion of a private owner in Luxor, and perhaps de¬ 
rives from the center of MANICHAEISM in Egypt, the 
region of Asyut (Koenen, 1973). 

The origin of two Coptic manuscript discoveries 
is assured through the colophons contained in the 
manuscripts: first, the fifty-six codices from the 
monastery of the archangel Michael at Sopehes in 
the Fayyum, which arc for the most part in the 
Picrpont Morgan Library in New York, and the co- 
dices bought in 1907 by Rustaijacll, which came 
from monasteries of Hajir Idfu and are preserved in 
the British Library. 

The place of discovery of the library found in 

1945 near Nag Hammadi, consisting of thirteen co- 
dices with mainly Gnostic writings, is assumed to 
be Hamra Dum, below the cliffs of the Jabal al-Tarif 
(see nag hammadi library). The statements of the 
finder about the exact place of discovery were test¬ 
ed through excavations in 1975 by the Claremont 
Institute for Antiquity and Christianity, but at the 
places indicated no archaeological evidence for the 
origin of the library could be found (Elderen, 1979, 
p. 226). We therefore do not know whether the 
manuscripts were found in an earthenware jar, as 
the finders affirmed, and as is frequently the case 
(cf. Preisendanz, 1933, p. 113), or what the exact 
place of discovery was, a cemetery or a hiding 
place. On the other hand, the story after the discov¬ 
ery of the library down to the making of an invento¬ 
ry in the Coptic Museum has been investigated by 
J. M. Robinson. Papyri pasted into the bindings of 
single volumes to strengthen the covers name per¬ 
sons and places in the region of the ancient Diospo- 
I is as well as dates. They arc in agreement with the 
place of finding, ascertained in 1950 by J. Doresse 
(p. 133), who, like Robinson, relies on the reports 
of local inhabitants. 

According to the statements of dealers, the place 
of discovery of the nine Manichaean codices in 
Subakhmimic, found in 1930, was MadSnat MadI in 
the Fayyum. The dialect of the manuscripts indi¬ 
cates a location farther to the south, in the region 
of Asyut. C. Schmidt (Schmidt and Polotsky, 1933, 
pp. 6ff.), who for decades bought papyri for Europe¬ 
an collections and was regarded by the dealers as a 
reliable partner, instituted his own inquiries, as a 
result of which Madlnat Madi was assumed to be 
the place. The place of discovery is probably not 
the place where the codices were copied. Three 
dealers divided the find among themselves. Sales 
were made to the Chester Beatty collection and to 
the State Museum in Berlin, and a small part went 
to the papyrus collection in Vienna. 

The last great manuscript discovery was made in 
1952, a few miles from where the Nag Hammadi 
codices were found, in the region of Dishna in Up¬ 
per Egypt. The manuscripts went to the Bodmer 
Library (see BODMER PAPYRI), the Chester Beatty Li¬ 
papyri), and the University of Mississippi. This dis¬ 
covery contains not only documents in Greek and 
Coptic but also Greco-Latin writings from the pre- 
Christian period (e.g., works of Menander, Thucydi¬ 
des. Cicero) and Christian writings from the Old 
and New Testaments, apocrypha, and early Chris¬ 
tian literature in Greek and Coptic. The early bibli- 


cal manuscripts found are especially important for 
the text of the Bible. The combination in this dis¬ 
covery of pagan and Christian writings presents 
problems in deciding about the character of the 
earlier library' or libraries. 

Finally, reference should be made also to the old 
manuscripts found in monasteries in Egypt by Eu¬ 
ropean traveler's and scholars. For the Old Testa¬ 
ment only the CODEX sinaiticus found by K. von 
TISCHBNDORF in the monastery of Saint Catherine on 
Mount Sinai need be named; for Coptic literature, 
there is the library found by G. Maspero in She- 
nute’s White Monastery (sec DAYR AN BA SHINODAH) at 
Suh&j and the books found in the monasteries of 
the Wadi al-Natrun, most of which were brought to 
European libraries. In most cases the colophons 
give us information about their origin. 


Barns, J. W. B.; G. M. Browne; and J. C. Shelton. 
Greek and Coptic Papyri from the Cartonttage of 
the Covers. Nag Hammadi Studies 16. Leiden, 

Doressc, J. The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnos¬ 
tics. An Introduction to the Gnostic Coptic Manu¬ 
scripts Discovered at Chetwboskion. pp. 116-36. 
London, 1960. 

Elderen, B. van. "The Nag Hammadi Excavation." 

Biblical Archaeologist 42 (1979):225 —31. 

Gabra, Gawdat. "Zur Bedeutung des Gebietes von 
Hagir Edfu fur die Koptologie und Nubiologic." 
Mitteilungen des deutschen urchdologischen Insti- 
tuts Kairo 45 (1985):9-14. 

-"Zur Bedeutung des koptischen Psalmen- 

buchcs im oxyrhynchitischen Dialekt." Gbttinger 
Miszellen 93 (1986):37-42. 

Gueraud, O. "Lc papyrus de Toura: I. Sa decouverte 
and son 6tat dc consei*vation.” In Sur la pdque: 
Orig&ne; traite inedit public d'apres tin papyrus de 
Toura, ed. O. Gueraud and P. Nautin. Christian- 
isme Antique 2. Paris, 1979. 

Hennecke, E., and W. Schneemelcher. Neutesta- 
mentlichc Apokryphen in deutscher Vbersetzung. 
3rd ed., pp. 468ff. Tubingen, 1964. 

Kleine Texte aus deni Tura-Fund in Zusammenarheit 
mil dem Agyptischen Museum zu Kairo, ed., trans., 
and commentaiy by B. Kramer with a contribu¬ 
tion from M. Gronewald. Patristischc Texte und 
Arbeiten 34. Bonn, 1985. 

Koenen, L. "Zur Herkunft des Kolner Mani-Codex." 
Zeitschrift fiir Papyrologie und Epigraphik 11 

Koenen, L., and L. Doutreleau. "Nouvel inventaire 
des papyrus de Toura." Recherches de science 
religieuse 55 (1967):547-64. 

Koenen, L., and W. Muller-Wiener. "Zu den Papyri 
aus dem Arsenioskloster bei Tura." Zeitschrift fiir 
Papyrologie und Epigraphik 2 (1968):42-63. 

Krause, M. "Schatzc aus dem zweiten grossen Fund 
koptischer Handschriften." Orientalistische Utera- 
turzeitung 62 (!967):437-45. 

Mackay, T. W., and G. W. Griggs. "The Recently 
Rediscovered Papyrus Leaves of Didymus the 
Blind." Bulletin of the American Society of Papy- 
rologists 20 (1985):59-60. 

Orlandi, T. "Les manuscrits coptes de Dublin, du 
British Museum et de Vienne." Le Museon 89 

Preisendanz, K. Papyrusfunde und Papyrusfor- 
schung. Leipzig, 1933. 

Robinson, J. M. “The Discovery of the Nag Hamma¬ 
di Codices." Biblical Archaeologist 42 (1979):206- 

-"The Discovering and Marketing of Coptic 

Manuscripts: The Nag Hammadi Codices and the 
Bodmer Papyri." In The Roots of Egyptian Christi¬ 
anity, ed. B. A. Pearson and J. E. Goehring. Phila¬ 
delphia, 1986. 

Schmidt, C., and H. J. Polotsky. Ein Manifund in 
Agypten. Originalschriften des Mani und seiner 
Schiiler. Sitzungsberichte der preussischen Aka- 
demie der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-histo- 
rischc Klasse 1933. Berlin, 1933. 

Turner, E. G. "Oxyrhynchos and Its Papyri." Greece 
and Rome 21 (1952):127-44. 

Martin Krause 

PARADISE, term used in the Septuagint to de¬ 
scribe the Garden of Eden and the abode of Adam 
and Eve (Gn. 2-3). It also occurs in Nehemiah 2:8, 
Ecclesiastes 2:5, and the Song of Solomon 4:13. In 
the New Testament it occurs in Luke 23:43, 2 Co¬ 
rinthians 12:4, and the Revelation to John 2:7. 

In Orthodox eschatological teaching, paradise is 
an intermediate place where the souls of the righ¬ 
teous who die in Christ await in expectation of 
resurrection and the Last Judgment. Prior to 
Christ's redemption of humanity, the abode of all 
the dead, righteous and unrighteous alike, was in 
HADES, the lower world. At the death of Christ on 
the cross, He descended into Hades, from which He 
conveyed the souls of the righteous to paradise. 
"For Christ also died for sins once for all, the right¬ 
eous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to 
God, being put to death in the flesh, but made alive 
in the spirit; in which he went and preached to the 
spirits in prison" (1 Pt. 3:18-19). 

It is worthy of note that the first human being to 



obtain the promise of admission into paradise was 
the thief who hung on the cross at the right of 
Christ. His faith and fearless confession made him 
the first to inherit the glorious destiny of all who 
acknowledged Jesus as their Lord: "And he said to 
him, 'Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me 
in Paradise’" (Lk. 23:43). 

In the Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians, 
Saint Paul spoke of paradise: "I know a man in 
Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the 
third heaven—whether in the body or out of the 
body I do not know, God knows. And I know that 
this man was caught up into Paradise—whether in 
the body or out of the body I do not know, God 
knows—and he heard things that cannot be told, 
which man may not utter" (2 Cor. 12:2-4). 

Part of the funerary rite of the Coptic church 
includes the following prayer, which is said by the 
priest over the departed: "Give rest, O Lord, in the 
Kingdom of heaven, to this soul on whose account 
we are gathered here. Open unto it, O Lord, the 
gate of Paradise, as Thou opened it for the faithful 


MIkh&'fl Mina. 7/m al-Lahut (The Study of Theolo¬ 
gy), Vol. 3. Cairo, 1938. 

Samu’ll Tadrus. Al-Jawhar fl Butlan al-Mathar (Refu¬ 
tation of the Idea of Purgatory). Cairo, 1949. 
Iqladyus Yuhanna Lablb. Kitab al-Tujnlz ay Salat 
al-Mawta (Funeral Service). Cairo, 1905. 

Archbishop Basiuos 

PARALLOS. See Burallus, al-. 

PARAMONE, a Greek term meaning watch, vigil, 
especially on the eve of a festival. Its Arabic equiva¬ 
lent, baramun, is a term generally used for the vig¬ 
ils of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ and of 
the Epiphany. It is a fast requiring abstention from 
the eating of fish, meat, eggs, milk, butter, and 
cheese. If the day before the feast happens to be 
Saturday or SUNDAY, then the paramone begins on 
Friday because it is not permitted to fast on Satur¬ 
day or Sunday. However, the eating of foods listed 
is prohibited on the two or three days of the 
paramone. Also the readings of the paramone day 
are repeated if the paramone occurs on more than 
one day. 


Ibn Siba’ Yuhanna ibn Abl Zakariya. Kitab al-Jaw- 
harah al-Nafisah fl 'Ulum aUKanisah, ed. Viktur 
Mansur. Cairo, 1902. Trans, into Latin as Pretiosa 
Margarita de Scientiis Ecclesiaslicis by Vincentio 
Mistrih. Cairo, 1966. 

Emil Maher Ishaq 


of the longer and best preserved tractates of the nag 
HAMMADI library. This text is part of a small, selec¬ 
tive group of Gnostic texts that show no evidence of 
having been influenced by Christianity (cf. APOCA¬ 
TOS). Attributed pseudonymously to Shem, the son 
of Noah and the ancestor of Abraham (Gn. 10:1, 
21-31; 11:10-26), the Paraphrase of Shem is a reve¬ 
lation delivered by the Gnostic redeemer Derdekeas 
(Aramaic for child, boy) to Shem. 

The revelation begins with Shem being elevated 
"to the top of the world close to the Light," that is, 
to the Supreme Being (1.10-11). Shem's mind is 
separated from his body, and he learns about cos¬ 
mogony, soteriology, and eschatology. Three princi¬ 
ples, "Light, Darkness and Spirit [pneuma] between 
them” are introduced (1.26-29). The Light know's 
of "the abasement of the Darkness" (2.11-13), but 
the Darkness is ignorant of the Light (2.16-18). So 
begins the cosmic drama. Darkness frightens Spirit 
(2.21) and becomes aware that "his likeness is dark 
compared with the Spirit" (3.6-7). Ignorant of the 
Light, Darkness directs his attention to Spirit to 
claim equality. From the mind of Darkness, evil is 
born; and from "the likeness of the Light” a son, 
Derdekeas, appears, whose task it is to carry up to 
the Light, the light of the Spirit shut up in Darkness 

The bulk of the tractate hereafter describes a cos¬ 
mogony involving the struggle among the different 
powers, Derdekeas* effort to liberate Light, and the 
events leading up to the time of consummation 
when "the forms of Nature will be destroyed" 
(45.16-17). Similar to other Gnostic eschatological 
writings, world history and evolution terminate 
with the consummation, and the particles of light 
return to the Supreme Being and no longer possess 
a (material) form. Derdekeas ends the Paraphrase 
of Shem by telling Shem of his role; he also tells 
him that salvation will only be given "to worthy 
ones” (49.6). 



The Paraphrase of Shem is of particular impor¬ 
tance for the religious history of late antiquity, post- 
biblical Judaism, and early Christianity. Its allusions 
and the biblical exegesis of the creation story of 
Genesis present an interesting comparison to other 
Jewish pseudepigraphic and apocryphal literature 
of the period of postbiblical Judaism. For example, 
the destruction of Sodom (28.34-29.34), the flood 
(25.13; 28.6), and the Tower of Babel (25.18 and 26; 
28.10) show clear dependence on the Old Testa¬ 
ment. The lack of Christian influence in the Para¬ 
phrase of Shem and evidence of a pre-Christian 
Gnostic redeemer also draws attention to the myth¬ 
ological and historical background of the New Tes¬ 
tament. This combination of a heterodox Jewish 
background with an absence of Christology has led 
Wisse (1970) to suggest that the polemic against 
baptism by water in this tractate is addressed to 
some Jewish baptismal sect and not against Chris¬ 
tians. Others view this ritual as unveiling Christian 
traces and Elchasaite involvement (Sevrin, 1975). 
Affinities to the Paraphrase of Seth of llippolytus 
are also a topic of debate ( Rcfutatio , 19-22). The 
Paraphrase of Shem has been viewed as a source 
for the Paraphrase of Seth and the basis for the 
doctrine of the Sethians of llippolytus. 

Finally, the list of names (31.4-32.6 and 46.4- 
47.6) in the tractate indicate some form of ritual to 
be recited at one’s final ascent. It also supports a 
process where novices are socialfred and instructed 
through different stages of Gnostic teaching. 

The terminus ad quern is the first pail of the third 
century with the middle of the second century or 
earlier, as plausible for the final redaction in Egypt. 


Aland, B. "Die Paraphrase als Form gnostischer 
Verkiindigung." In Nag Hammadi and Gnosis, ed. 
R. McL. Wilson. Nag Hammadi Studies 14. Lei¬ 
den, 1978. 

Bertrand, D. A. "Paraphrase de Sent el Paraphrase 
de Seth." In Les Textes de Nag Hammadi: Col- 
loque du Centre d'Histoire des Religions, ed. J.-E. 
Menard. Nag Hammadi Studies 7. Leiden, 1975. 
Fischer, K.-M. "Die Paraphrase des Seem." In Es¬ 
says on the. Nag Hammadi Texts: In Honor of 
Pahor Labib, ed. M. Krause, Nag Hammadi Stud¬ 
ies 6. Leiden, 1975. 

Krause, M. “Die Paraphrase des Seem.” In Christen- 
linn am Roten Meer, pp. 2-105. Berlin, 1973. 

-"Die Paraphrase des S£em und der Bericht 

Hippolytus." In Proceedings of the International 
Colloquium on Gnosticism, ed. G. Widengren. Lei¬ 
den, 1977. 

Rudolph, K. Gnosis. Trans, and ed. R. McL. Wilson, 
pp. 85-86. San Francisco, 1983. 

Sevrin, J.-M. "A propos de la 'Paraphrase de Sem.”’ 
Le Museon 83 (1975):69-96. 

Wisse, F. "The Redeemer Figure in the Paraphrase 
of Shem." Novum Testamentum 12 (1970): 130- 

_"The Paraphrase of Shem." Nag Hammadi 

Library, ed. J. M. Robinson, pp. 308-328. Leiden, 

Hf.nky A. Grf.f.n 

PARCHMENT, a writing surface made from the 
skin of sheep or goats. Lexicographically the term is 
distinct from vellum, which, by convention, denotes 
pages made from the skin of calves or kids. In the 
manufacture of both vellum and parchment the 
skins were soaked for several days in a lime solu¬ 
tion, cleansed of flesh and hair, limed, dried, 
stretched, polished with pumice, and dusted with 
sifting chalk. Like papyrus, individual sheets of 
parchment were bound together at the sides to 
form rolls, or folded and stitched into codices (see 

Pliny the Elder ( Natural History xiii.ll), quoting 
the Latin scholar Varro, maintained that parchment 
was invented in Pergamum (modern Bergama, 
in western Turkey) by a certain Eumenes of the 
Attalid dynasty (presumably Eumenes II, 197-159 
B.C.) when an embargo was placed on the export of 
papyrus by the king of Egypt. Although this tradi¬ 
tion appears to gain credence from the fact that the 
word "parchment" comes from a Greek adjectival 
form of Pergamum ( pergamene or pergamenon), 
there is no attestation of this adjective applied to 
the writing material until A.D. 301. Consequently, 
many believe its application to parchment argues 
only for the widespread acceptance of the account 
preserved in Pliny, not for the actual invention of 
parchment in Pergamum. The earlier Greek word 
for parchment is diphthera. The earlier Latin term 
is membrana. 

The oldest extant parchments are from Dura- 
Europos and date to the second century B.C. About 
a.d. 300 parchment began to supplant papyrus as 
the preferred writing material of the ancient world, 
though papyrus continued to be used for centuries 


Santifaller, Leo. Beitriige zur Geschichte der Besch- 

reibstoffe im Mittelalter, pp. 77-87. Graz, 1953. 



Turner, E. G. Greek Papyri , pp. 7-16. Princeton, 
N.J., 1968. 

Randall Stewart 

PAREKKLESIA, a description in use especially 
in Greek-speaking areas for a subsidiary church at¬ 
tached to a larger church and closely connected 
with it. Examples or such subsidiary churches are, 
however, just as frequent in Egyptian church build¬ 
ing. The parekklesia could have been erected at the 
same time as the main church or at a later date. To 
be recognized as a parekklesia, it must present a 
closed church area, be exclusively intended for li¬ 
turgical use, and also contain all the furnishings 
necessary for the liturgy. In particular to the latter 
belong an altar and an apse, or at least a niche 
representing it. The parekklesia, accordingly, is fun¬ 
damentally distinct from all other side rooms in the 
church. An oratories, which serves only for prayer 
or personal devotions, is not a parekklesia, even if 
it is equipped with a large prayer niche. 

The church of the mount sinai monastery of saint 
CATHERINE originally possessed only two parekklesia 
on the two sides of the apse. The Chapel of the 
Burning Bush to the east of the main apse is later. 
At a later date, the side rooms on the side aisles 
were also given a new function as parekklesia (For¬ 
syth, 1968, pp. 11-14). In the same way a parekkle¬ 
sia was subsequently added to the north basilica of 
abO MlNA. This actually presents three altars, and 
was chiefly intended for the carrying out of the 
baptismal ceremony (Jarilz, 1970, p. 74). Further, 
all the larger churches at scetis are equipped with 
parekklesia. The larger secondary churches, which 
as a rule are actually spatially separate, must be 
considered independent churches. From the late 
Fatirnid period, with a view to increasing the fre¬ 
quency of masses, small parekklesia were set up in 
many Cairo churches in the side rooms and the 
galleries. They were in each case provided with an 
altar and an iconostasis shutting off the altar area. 
It was only after sanctuaries with several altars 
were introduced, well into the Mamluk period, that 
the designation parekklesia for the side altars lost 
its justification. 


Descoeudres, G. Die Pastophorien ini syro-byzantin- 
ischen Osten, pp. 21-22. Wiesbaden, 1983. 
Forsyth, G. H. "The Monastery of St. Catherine at 

Mount Sinai." Dumbarton Oaks Papers 22 (1968): 

Grossmann, P. Mittelalterliche Langhanskuppelkir- 
chen und venvandle Typen in Oberdgypten, pp. 
222-24. Glucksladt, 1982. 

Jaritz, H. "Die Nordbasilika." Mitteilungen des deut- 
schen archdologischen Instituts—Abteilung Kairo 
26 (1970):69—74. 

Peter Grossmann 

STANTIN (1798-1872), German Coptologist and 
classical scholar. He was educated at Berlin and 
Heidelberg. He published a number of Greek and 
Coptic texts and several books. 


Dawson, W. R., and E. P. Uphill. Who Was Who in 
Egyptology, p. 222. London, 1972. 

Kammerer, W., comp. A Coptic Bibliography. Ann 
Arbor, Mich., 1950; repr. New York, 1969. 

Aziz S. Atiya 

PARTHIAN HORSEMAN. See Christian Sub¬ 
jects in Coptic Art. 

PASCHA, a Jewish feast rooted in the seminoma- 
dic religious practices of the ancient Near East, 
attached to memories of the Israelites' exodus from 
Egypt by the historici/.ing interpretation of Exodus 
12:12-13, 23-27, and Deuteronomy 16:1-6, and 
adapted to the celebration of the Christian mystery 
of salvation by the early Christians. 

Despite modern philological proposals, the ety¬ 
mology and original meaning of the Hebrew word 
pesah, from which the Greek pascha is derived, 
remain obscure. Exodus 12:13, 23, and 27 provide a 
popular etymology by relating pesah to the Hebrew 
verb pusah, to limp, to skip or jump over. God, 
prepared to strike down the firstborn in Egypt, 
would limp past, or skip over, the houses of the 
Israelites who had performed the paschal rite. In 
Hellenistic Judaism, the word pascha was explained 
either as hyperbasia or hyperbasis , a passing-over, 
with reference to God's passing over the houses of 
the Israelites in Egypt, or as diabasis or diabateria, 
a passing-through, with reference to the Israelites 
passing through the Red Sea. 

Of these two Hellenistic Jewish explanations, the 



first was not easily transferable to the Christian pas- 
cha, but Christians used the second bv taking the 
passage through the Red Sea as a type of Christ's 
passage from death to life or of the Christian's pas¬ 
sage to new life in baptism (ideally at the time of 
the paschal celebration), or even by taking the pas¬ 
sage through the Red Sea as an allegory of the 
Christian's passage from sin, ignorance, and false¬ 
hood to virtue, knowledge, and truth. In a specifi¬ 
cally Christian etymology popular in early Christian 
centuries but infrequently used by learned writers, 
pascha was taken as a word related to paschein, to 
suffer, and thus referred to Christ’s suffering and 

In the earliest years of Christianity, Jews, in cele¬ 
brating Passover on the night of the full moon, the 
fourteenth-fifteenth of the lunar month of Nisan, 
joyfully and thankfully commemorated the past de¬ 
liverance of their people from bondage in Egypt, 
looked upon that deliverance as represented in the 
present, and to some extent looked forward to a 
new liberation in a future age. Until the Temple in 
Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70, the killing and 
eating of the paschal lamb and the blood rites per¬ 
formed with the lamb's blood were important parts 
of the celebration, as they arc to this day in the 
paschal observance of the Samaritans. 

In nascent Christianity, the passion and resurrec¬ 
tion of Jesus at the time of the Jewish Pasch (Pass- 
over) determined the nature of the Christian Pasch. 
The paschal lamb was taken as a type of Christ (1 
Cor. 5:7; Jn. 1:29, 36; 19:33, 36; 1 Pt. 1:19; Rev. 5:6, 
9, 12; 12:11), although its killing and eating were 
quickly replaced by the Christian agape and Eucha¬ 
rist in the early morning, after a vigil and a fast. 
The earliest Christians observed their Pasch on the 
date of the Jewish Passover, in the night of 14-15 
Nisan, a practice continued in the Ouartodeciman 
observance in Asia Minor into the late second cen¬ 
tury and among heterodox Christian groups as late 
as the fourth. Their interpretation depended above 
all on the dating of the Passion and death of Jesus 
on 14 Nisan, evident in the chronology of the Gos¬ 
pel According to John (Jn. 19:14). The passion and 
death of Jesus were at the center of the earliest 
Christians’ understanding of their Pasch. This by no 
means necessarily excluded His Resurrection as 
motive for the joy and hope that characterized the 
paschal celebration, but from the extant sources, it 
is impossible to reconstruct with certitude a com¬ 
plete and authentic Ouartodeciman interpretation 
of the early Christian Pasch. 

The practice of celebrating the Christian Pasch 
not in the night of 14-15 Nisan but in the vigil 
leading into the Sunday following 14-15 Nisan 
arose early, perhaps in the church of Jerusalem, 
and spread rapidly, so that by the end of the second 
century it was the common practice throughout 
Christendom. The choice was made in view of 
Christ’s Resurrection on the Sunday following the 
Jewish Pasch, and it entailed a shift of emphasis 
from his passion and death to his Resurrection in 
Christians' interpretation of their Pasch. In the ear¬ 
ly centuries of the Christian era, however, Christ's 
passion, death, Resurrection, and Ascension were 
seen as integral moments of a single paschal mys¬ 
tery. Christian use of typology and allegory to adapt 
elements inherited from the Jewish Pasch (the kill¬ 
ing and eating of the paschal lamb, the propitiatory 
value of its blood, commemoration of the deliver¬ 
ance of the firstborn in a new age) to those various 
moments of Christ's saving action, in a single pas¬ 
chal celebration, satisfied the needs of the occasion. 
Roughly in the course of the fourth century, as the 
development of the Christian calendar reflected an 
increasing concern with temporal distinctions, the 
sense of unity in the aspects of the Christian Pasch 
was weakened. The commemoration of Christ's pas¬ 
sion and death was concentrated on Good Friday, 
that of His Ascension was moved to a new feast 
foiiy days after Easter, in accordance with the chro¬ 
nology of Acts 1:3, and Easter Sunday became more 
exclusively the commemoration of His Resurrec¬ 
tion. It was Easter Sunday, not Good Friday, that 
retained the name pascha in Greek-speaking Chris¬ 
tendom, but the concept of Holy Thursday and 
Good Friday as days of the Christian paschal meal 
and of the immolation of the "Paschal Lamb" was 
not lost. The East and West Syrian and Maronite 
churches continue to use the Syriac form of pascha 
to designate Holy Thurs